Arnab’s best laid plan worked positively for Republic TV as the channel opened with 52% share in its very first week of launch. Arnab and his team are in cloud nine as their re-entry in to the English News market, after a break of six months, happened to be a grand success.
Arnab and his team caught up with tvnews4u.com to share their rejoice and plans forward for the channel and the Republic Movement.
On the other hand he also ripped apart the sudden desperation of NBA and its efforts to arm-twist BARC India to stop published the ratings of Republic TV.
NBA notice to BARC asking to stop putting out Republics Ratings? Due to Multiple feeds, what is multiple feeds Your Comments?
We are free to air, non-encrypted channel and anybody can carry us. I don’t know what this issue is, if people like us they will carry us. I think it’s a desperate measures by NBA and there is a genuine conflict of interest by the office bearers of NBA and their corporate roles. We must be careful that such conflict of interest must not exist. The head of NBA is the CEO of TV Today Networks, they are worried about our ratings and the VP of NBA is the CEO of Times Network, most affected by these ratings and that’s why this desperate measures. They were talking about this even before the ratings were out and they have not disclosed that Times Network has multiple feeds in some places, India Today network also has dual frequencies. They have concealed these facts and attacked us. I think this is unfair and this reflects the growing restlessness of some of these players about our impending victory .
NBA has also complained to the TRAI, have you received any notification?
No we have not been informed but TRAI should investigate the dual frequencies used by the India Today Network presently and in the past. There were complaints about them when they rebranded and they had extensively used dual frequencies but at that time NBA did not look into those complaints or ask for ratings not to be disclosed. I want to know from Ashish Bagga as to why at that time he did not ask for ratings to be disclosed when he was using dual frequencies. Also want to know from MK Anand as to why they didn’t complain then.
This is basically a situation where they are misusing their positions as members the NBA, so now what the NBA has become it has lost its stature, respect and there is an open conflict of interest issue which emerges. However I was always convinced that we would be NO 1 by far, I have a question to ask these companies even if they had 100 frequencies they would have never been able to match our content.
Do you like a revelation to happen?
Dual frequencies have existed and people have used it so can’t understand the reasoning now.
A person from Chrome has been calling and asking us to do business with them, but we have not responded and we decide who we want to do business with. But they. go out and releases data against us and this is conflict of interest against Chrome also. We have never done business with Chrome and they have gone and released some data against us. These are all underhand tactics.
Would Republic want to be part of NBA?
NBA has become a toothless organisation which has a cabal of 2-3 companies and they want to use it for their personal interests, who do they represent now? By deliberately falsifying information and selectively leaking data Ashish Bagga has reduced the NBA to a private cabal of people who are nothing but cry-babies, and I strongly feel that such type of bodies have no relevance any more.
An Alternate body?
There is a great need for Centre of Indian Journalism to represent the true interests of Media owners and media people. I am working towards that and we will make an announcement soon. I think the NBA by what it has done today has become a plaything in the hands of few media owners, this is not the way to do Media, the way to do media is to do stories.
I am disappointed today as I had gone to Mr. Salve and drafted the Rules & regulations and what has it become today a toothless tool, go and complain when their corporate interests are affected. The NDA was built to create high standards and ethics for editorial content and now it has become a lobbying body.
What do you attribute this stunning results?
I attribute it to the genuine stories we have broken, the Lalu tapes, Arvind gate, Sunanda Pushkar murder case, broke into the inner ring of Lakshare Toybha, the Indian -ISIS Link. These are genuine and visual stories. Our journalists have gone out and taken the risks to do these stories. I am very proud and that is the reason we are here today.
Lalu Tapes, Times Now says its theirs?
Times Now says Lalu Tapes are their possession. First they need to prove this, didn’t they want to expose Shahabuddin. Where they scared or was there a Political compulsion?
How they had the tapes and if they had it and it was in their server and we stole it why didn’t they reveal it in the 6 months I was not on air.
The Fir against you and Prema on the Sunanda Pushkar Story, Is it an IPR infringement?
Not at all, Prema has had conversation with Sunanda’s man Narayan on her phone, it is not Times Now phone. Over the last 21/2 years there was no justice given to her. Prema and me have asked the maximum questions on this.
Why was it not aired then?
Prema Sridevi has put out a Video testimony to the Delhi Poice at that point of time. We have given everything to the Law enforcement authorities. All the question we have asked now we asked then also.
The same story you could have done it in Times Now, What stopped you?
Prema Sreedevi was put under pressure by her seniors to not share the tapes with the police, now she is working for an Independent Media Organisation and I will not put any pressures on her. We want justice for Sunanda and if we don’t ask these questions then nothing will come thru.
Times group don’t own the tapes if they did why didn’t they put the tapes out then.
When you were there did you feel suffocated?
I did many a times, I felt my Editorial independence was infringed upon that’s why I have set up an Independent Media.
From my side it has never been us versus them. I have never made a single comment against the Times Group, they have gone to police stations. The people who have joined me there have been harassed, not paid last month salary, threatening letters have been sent of untoward incidents, provident funds being held back etc etc. Yet we have never made it Us Versus them fight.
I am at the moment holding myself exposing the truth they will have no arguments to counter it. I am going to be graceful about it as it is our moment of Victory I would request the Times of India Group to be graceful in their defeat.
You do understand that today it’s the inflexion point for the Media in this country, never before in the history of media in this country a new organisation has taken away more than 50% of the market share.
You said first Independent media, what is the pattern of shareholding?
The shareholding pattern of republic is in the Public Domain. We have an Investment Asia Net and my company in which I have some marquee investors. This is the only Media Company which has its Shareholding partners in Public Domain, we made it public as soon as we applied for the licence.
What today’s ratings have done is the list of excuses against Republic is over, now they have to talk about stories, programming ,Content.
Performance and ratings?
We have done exceptionally well across the country. The beautiful thing about the ratings today is across market segments urban, rural we are the leaders. 54% in the South. We have tied up with everyone in the south including ARASU except the STV group. They are not willing to take us.
Did the Hinglish twist up your ratings?
See the desperation of the Times Network, they went Hindi in the morning all of a sudden. Why have there been no complaints, I should go to TRAI and BARC and say they shouldn’t be in the English News genre.
The big story today is a new entrant has defeated the Bennet Coleman Group. It’s a demolition they have been decimated.
Is the viewership mainly primetime?
No it is overall, probably 5 – 7% spike in Primetime. Thru the day it is 45 – 50 %. Our viewership is thru the day, all India, I have never seen this kind of viewership the reason behind this is we are a big story channel and we are carrying a big story thru the day. We are very confident that we will sustain our numbers.
Will you break a big story every day?
I am sure in a country like us there are many big stories waiting to be broken .
How has the compaptetors (Lutyens media according to you) responded?
Complete paranoia, am I responsible for India Today Group ratings fall to 7%?
Let them look at their line-up of stories/anchors and very silly of them to do a counter campaign on advertising on the day of Republic launch. Eventually I believe that what people see on TV is the genuineness of the content.
Wil these stories you have broken have a definite end, i.e will you follow up ?
Yes all the stories will be followed up.
I wanted to register a show ‘Arnab Goswami News Hour’ and their response was to send a legal notice to me saying that I cannot use ‘Arnab Goswami’ before News Hour as it will be infringement of IPR.
While Mr Arnab excused himself for his upcoming capsules. The CEO of Republic TV Mr . Vikas Kanchandani and the Distribution Head Ms. Priya Mukherjee continued with us:
Carriage fees has been a bane for News broadcasters what is your opinion when you went into the market ?
We went to the market as a start-up, the trade understood us that we do not have a big media house supporting us a with deep pockets. We went into the market in good faith and lot of support be it DTH or cable and they have gone out of their way to accommodate us. For any new player it is an investment of 40 cr but we managed to get good deals.
Our Marketing and distribution team have done a fantastic job, we are available in the farthest parts of Kashmir and we had hoardings in Kashmir and Tezpur in Assam.
How have the advertisers reacted to you ?
We are blessed, it was relatively easy to approach Advertisers because we already had a bench mark in the market place, its like tomorrow if somebody wanted to monetize Virat Kohli you have a legacy of performance to go and monetize.
We made sure we were going about it in a structured format and following a standard protocol for the market in terms of Sponsorship, in terms of deliveries, entitlements. We made them really happy. We gave them something but eventually we went back and gave the brand lot more visibility. Ask any of our partners who agreed to come on board even before the channel started are super excited.
We are excited is the number of youth brands and connect with the youth. Most are unconventional News clients. Ola, Hike absolutely targeted with the youth.
We have 20 partners across the board and more we have signed now. Our aim is to get more strategic partnership. We want everybody to succeed, if we win they win. It’s a repeat audience. We have done long term strategic partnerships some for 3 years also.
The strategic partners who joined us with a long term commitment even before the channel started is about 18 /19. After that we have added many more. Spot buys will keep happening.
The inventory used upto now is about 70%. We have already sold out on Arnab’s show.
What are the other IP’s you would be creating other than Arnab’s show?
A lot more, a weekend show called ‘Patriot’ which Major Gaurav Arya would be doing, The Anupam Kher show, and we will be adding more formats.
What will be the name of Arnab’s debate show?
‘The Nation wants to know’
What is the level of digitization happening in Phase 2 ?
It’s picking up, Most MSO’s have switched off the analogue, but whole of Tamil Nadu is still analogue, AP, Telengana, WB analogue have been switched. But still there are pockets so let’s wait till September.
Are the English News channels going beyond their traditional markets ?
There are more people sampling us for example a traditionally hindi news watcher is now watching us the time we have launched means we are doing something right and which is very differentiated the other channels. We have discussed internally and come to an understanding that we have to be inclusive so that more and more viewers consume us.
Are you a Right Wing Channel ?
We are a neutral channel, as Arnab keeps saying we are Nationalistic and today the mood of the Nation is that and that does not make us a Right Wing Channel.
Arnab rubbished this rumour floating in the market about 60-65 people having quit, he said one person quit due to personal reasons. My team is excited and raring to go