He is the most busiest man in the Indian Broadcasting Space swinging like a twister to set up his state-of-the-art studios, Installing Futuristic Broadcast Technology, Finalysing his Editorial Plans, Establising Distribution tie-up, Structuring Marketing and Promotions, Implememnting Business Strategy etc… Despite all this Arnab Goswami met up with TVNews4U.com at his new office in Lower Parel for a chat on his views on the Indian Media and his Vision for his new Channel Republic TV:
tvnews4u: The brilliant Creatives announcing the arrival of Arnab & Republic ?
Arnab: Our team did it, Executed & produced it. O&M is also advising us and giving us ideas but it’s our team which is executing and implementing them. The best thing is we have a design team which is executing all the creatives.
We have been seen as doing hard hitting journalism, what people have missed the last 4 months is hard hitting journalism. The question I am asked wherever I go by everyone… ‘when are you back’? So, this was one way of telling the people we are back and also telling the people who are happy or unhappy we are away and reminding people we are back like Mr. Mallaya for example. Consistently hittingnout at these subjects is important and the last 4-5 months it is not happening and people are missing it, it’s a huge responsibility. People are happy we are coming back and there is some sense of finality.
tvnews4u: The shy reticent Mr. Goswami has suddenly turned Flamboyant what with interviews everywhere, on the cover of Man’s World in Designer clothes??
All the money that I have raised large part of it I have spent on the Studio and infrastructure in Mumbai and Delhi. Actually Delhi is bigger. So when we spend all the money on a future ready technology network, getting the best people I don’t have tons of money for Marketing. I can’t compete with the big guys in spending tons of money in Marketing and Promotions. I am not very comfortable in those expensive suits and watches. If you ask me it’s not ME.
I don’t wear Gucci, I don’t wear those expensive watches, and I am a Liberty shoes guy.
For me to go out and wear Gucci was fun and it saves my Marketing cost.
tvnews4u: The reason behind Tamil Creatives?
Chennai is a very important market for me.
tvnews4u: How big a Market is Chennai for you Arnab?
Chennai is very important. I don’t know why, you can analyise it. Highest viewership of any single show from one city for me has been Chennai. Anywhere between 15-20% and sometimes even 35%.
A very concentrated audience in the south is consuming me be it, Chennai, Bangalore etc. Why and where from I don’t know. I have never been to Chennai often but this time when I was there was this auditorium which was Choco bloc with people to hear me. There is an audience there which has been following me very very closely and so for me there is a sentimental value with Chennai.
I am from Guwahati but I have not launched the campaign from there but from Chennai. For me it’s the love for the people of Chennai and the love they have shown for me. When we were writing the creatives, I said how do you say Hello in tamizh they said don’t say hello say once again you are coming back that is why ‘Meendum’. This has got a tremendous response.
We have focused in Chennai in a big way.
tvnews4u: National news channels especially English Media has never focused beyond Delhi & Mumbai …any reasons for this?
I have always been frustrated with a focus on Delhi and I ran a channel out of Mumbai for 10 years and I realised that when in Mumbai you look at Delhi differently and now when you are out of Delhi and Mumbai you look at the country differently.
We launched our channel campaign in Bangalore in the Under 25 Summit and we launched the advertising campaign in Chennai. This is a deliberate move, want to make a statement to everybody that India is not Delhi. I have nothing against Delhi but the 90% of the so called National Media has got concentrated out of Delhi, what have they done ? They have done 3 things
- Ignored the rest of the country
- Cosied up to the establishment
And thirdly they have never broken any big stories that have taken on the establishment in a big way. So what is the use of being close to the establishment if its only for their personal benefits. Journalists have cosied up to the establishment, I wouldn’t say all but many important people have taken favours. The system of patronage that has been built up in Delhi I want to yank that out of Delhi. I don’t think they have the right to represent all of us, on what basis do they give Arvind Khejriwal 70% of air time when he sends 4 MPs to parliament, next time if he is lucky won’t be able to send a single one.
You look at Chennai only when there is a Jallikatttu and when Jayalalitha passes away?
This disproportionate focus on Delhi also has other negative effects. Are there are no commentators outside of Delhi ? You have prominent people outside Delhi, Cho Ramaswamy who passed away , I would say for example Mr. Gurumurthy, his intellect and ability to analyse news from a deeper perspective. I think very few people can match his level of expertise. Tamil Nadu has a range of Satirical Political magazines whose translations of what they write would have a tremendous impact on the national audience.
My problem is that almost all the literary and cultural world of India has been localises by Delhi and this is represented by the Jaipur Literary Festival Circuit. The same bunch of 30 0r 40 people who dominate Culture/Literature/Politics who give you one sided narrative of what is going on in the country. You cant question them, I have faced it myself when I have questioned this narrative.
Look at the Tarun Tejpal case, why was everybody protecting him, why were people going against the victim and in closeted corner, naming and shaming the victim and protecting Tarun Tejpal. Why were they quiet during the Nira Radia tapes case because the name of a prominent TV journalist was named.
It’s an echo chamber and I want to destroy this echo Chamber, thru you I want to announce something, I am sharing this with you, I haven’t shared it with anybody and hoping you would put it out.
I am announcing next week the setting up of an alternative Journalistic Grouping of India. The Centre for Indian Journalism (CIJ) based out of Mumbai and which all the major players in News from all over India will participate. It cannot be one group whether it’s this association or that association. An association with 6 members goes and has lunch in some TV studio in Noida and they claim they represent all of the Indian Media. When an issue comes up in Media, this group goes and meets the Minister essentially they are doing nothing, what they are doing is clout selling and they claim to have the clout and they lobby visa vie the government. I want to destroy this. Next week I am setting with like-minded journalist like us.
tvnews4u: Is it an Association?
Yes its an association, it’s a grouping and I am inviting you to be part of it.
Every quarter we will meet, we will have conversations and we will have conversations in different parts of India lie in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai and Trivandrum.
We will never do it in Delhi for the first 3 years. It’s a statement that we have risen against the disproportionate clout being exercised by the people in Media.
Now I will give you an example, a fantastic journalist like Chitra Subramanian who I am proud to be associated with as our Senior Advisor. Chitra Subramanian has produced the only story of any relevance before the CWG Scam. Chitra Subramanian today should have been the leading figure, she should be celebrated by the Indian Media, but this Indian Media did not celebrate her and I am proud that she is associated with us. She was the only one who took on the establishment
This grouping is important, the creating of this group is to destroy the disproportionate clout the rest of the media has on us. That’s what I meant when I said I am declaring my Independence from this Media. I don’t need them,I don’t need their support I can fight my own battles.
When I fought my battles none of them stood by me , when I fought CWG scam, nobody stood by me. But interestingly journalist from other States , Ranga of Public TV from Bangalore, Zahir Hussain of News Line , Odiya TV were my support. They understand what journalism is as they have no stakes in the system. I want people who have no stakes in the Government to be part of this group.
I hope you tell the people as to what CIJ is. Lots of good journalist will participate, Chitra, Minhaz Merchant and many more.
tvnews4u: Centre has granted provisional DAS license to Arasu Cable TV in Tamil Nadu… Do you support government’s involvement in Cable TV distribution business..?
Ideally they shouldn’t. I am very clear that Government has no business in being in distribution, I shouldn’t be saying as it is very sensitive time for me as I am on the brink of launching a channel. But government should not have any role in distribution as it will put pressure on the channel, but again push back from people is very strong.
I believe in people power, I was banned in UP as I had criticized Akhilesh Yadav but finally they had to give in as I made a lot of noise.
2nd instance during 26/11 I had to call Anand Sharma who was the Minister then saying you cant black me out in Mumbai. If this happens then any local policeman in any part of the country can close down any channel on their whims and fancies.
Government should be out of anything related to broadcasting and distribution or they will use it as pressure tactics. They will say we wont but there will be a system of favours and keeping control. I feel Tamil Nadu should be of no exception.
tvnews4u: So it will be 9 pm again for you Arnab?
Yes of course!! I will be doing my debate at 9 pm. People are missing me I don’t know where the original is but I am coming back at 9 pm.
I would request everybody to watch me at 9 pm.
I can’t be away at 9 pm but there is one media group I wont name them but people are intelligent know who I am talking about, they have made it their Lifes mission to keep me away from peoples TV sets. They are going around paying money, using blocking system like don’t take this channel, if you take put it right in the end. I want to tell them thru you people will find me wherever I am. These people think the viewer is so stupid that he wont scroll down the bar to find me. Even if I am the last channel out of the 300 they will find me if they like me. Even if you are the 1st on any other network people will reject you if they don’t like you. So instead of wasting your time and making life difficult for me why don’t you concentrate on what you are putting out. Compete with me on content if you cant then you are admitting your defeat by doing all this.
tvnews4u: There are lot of stories you broke in Times Now is bearing fruit, how do you feel ?
I am very happy because for me my journalism is part of a public crusade. I don’t need to do a lot of these stuff to get ratings alone.
I am doing it in the Spirit of a Crusader. I would be very happy to see Zakir Naik is bought to justice. I know the threats I faced after I took him on, people wanted my security to be upped. I work in Mumbai I take on Shivsena and Zakir Naik frankly I don’t need to do this, you come into my office I have no security. I don’t need to do this for a living but I do it as a Public crusade. So when I hear Women being allowed to enter Hajiali. That feeling of whether man or women everyone is equal brings a smile to my face.
I started the Campaign on VVIP racism ‘Lal Batti’, I feel very happy as I feel someone somewhere has been a rippled down effect that I have been able to create a traction that has stayed on and not died over months and people still feel that way. When I started the campaign against ‘Lal Batti’ lot of politicians told me to stop it or they would ban my channel, it didn’t faze me.
What really saddens me is that nobody is standing up for the Army, I want these pseudo liberals to tell me that if they were in a jeep surrounded b hostile people with guns in their hands would they or wouldn’t they have put up somebody in front of their jeep as a life saver so they can move on.
I have people in the forces from my family who have served in Kashmir. I know the hostility that is faced there in many occasions. I feel very sad that an Army major is being targeted for so called breaking human rights violation all he did was putting a person saying if you shoot me you are also going to shoot one of your own, right. I think he has done nothing wrong point no 1 he had done absolutely nothing wrong.
My colleague Major Gaurav arya has gone when stones were being pelted and been at the other side with the CRPF Personnel, it is extremely difficult. I feel upset, angry, furiously angry at the way that soldier was being targeted. My blood boils today at seeing a CRPF jawan with AK47 being kicked by these people in Kashmir and stones being pelted at him. I feel that this soldier should be awarded for not taking his gun and shooting back at them. The restraint he has shown when he was being kicked/abused and humiliated, when these pictures are there in front of you when your people in uniform are humiliated, targeted, abused and these are boys from TN, Bihar, Haryana and various other States landing up there fighting for Mother India on the other hand our entire media went quiet on this soldier and criticised the Major for Human Rights Violations. You put a Kashmiri in front so they don’t shoot their own and put him in front to save themselves. Don’t they have the right to save themselves?
The sell out of this countrys Media astonishes me so when I come back I am going back to these issues, I am not going to let go off these issues and I am going to start a Public debate on this.
Also a Public debate on whether what Sonu Nigam said was right or wrong, whether they should have a Fatwa on every single person who says I will not agree with your perspective. I have faced this before I have fought these people in JNU and I will fight them again.
I am horrified the way the army has been treated b these people the same media which supported Tarun Tejpal is criticising this army major. They are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. I am going to take them on fully this time that’s why before announcing the Centre for Indian Journalism enough people believe in our philosophy.
tvnews4u: Arnab…people who have inspired you?
There are 3 people who have inspired me in this journey of Journalism
Cho Ramaswamy he was like a friend, when I started my career at 26 I got my first interview with Sonia Gandhi, he called and wished me. He didn’t know me but it was agreat thought and I admired him.
The 2nd person was Vinod Mehta, I disagreed with him on all issues, his views on naxalism was completely unacceptable to me but I loved him from the bottom of my heart. When he died I wrote a piece ‘The Editor I never had’.
The 3rd person I greatly admire is Appan Menon, he was the News Editor with Prannoy Roy, he was the one who recruited me, I ike him for his humility.
We owe it to these people that we stop this sell out of the Indian Media that is going on from Delhi.
Starting with the launch of Republic we will start this. I am collaborating with multiple people in India the details of which I am not revealing now, but on the day of the launch I am going to announce something which has never been done before in Indian Journalism. We are going to making a lot of noise starting with CIJ.
tvnews4u: What was the issue on the title and with Dr. Swamy ?
I had no issue with Mr. Swamy but he has an issue with me because once on a TV programme, he had a percpective and I had mine. We both disagreed, that was the starting point. Mr. Swamy with the greatest of respect should understand Republic is like Democracy, if I wanted to call my TV, Democracy TV nobody can object to it.
I respect Mr Swamy for his independent views but he should know that I have mine. If he doesn’t agree with me on this subject I also don’t. There must be some people who don’t agree with Dr. Swamy’s view that must be me. He should know that I don’t get intimiditated by his antics. I will go and do whatever I want to do. H called me a ‘PORIKI’, I am greatful for his love and affection but I will not return the same as he is my fathers age and in India we respect our elders. Actually Dr. Swamy should support us since he says he is a Nationalist and support us for our views and there are some people in this country had the courage to take on Zakir Naik, take on the likes of Lakshera Taubha, who fights for the country and the army after all this Dr. Swamy has a problem with the name of my Channel.
Best of Luck !!
tvnews4u: Thoughts of exploring Vernacular Media ?
In the future I would like to explore but right now I am too focussed on this and I think with English I can reach a lot more people.
I do not want to compete with regional press. I want to work with them, what is the purpose in life, my purpose is my journalism should reach everyone. If I have good stories the regional channels will work with me, they will take my stories forward I have lot of faith in them.
tvnews4u: Distribution Scene in India & International for Republic ?
We are on every DTH platform right now. I want SUN DTH to take me.
We are beginning to expand our distribution. We need to start with the Middle east , then South East Asia then go all over.
All over India we are a free to air non- encrypted channel. This is also a belief in the people of this country, we do not want to charge the consumer for anything.
Its like starting a newspaper I will give it to you free for a year. It’s a big model and it takes tons of money to do it.
Why am I launching the channel, I am launching it because I want to reach the hearts of the people. If I lose money in the first year so be it. I have not collected large sums of money, all the money collected I have spent on infrastructure, technology and State of the Art studio. I have a fantastic bunch of investors and I will build it up slowly.
I will be based in Mumbai , I have 2 studios here and one in Delhi in Film City Noida which is the largest its being built now by my team of technical experts. I will do shows out of Delhi once a week. Criticizing Lutyens Media does not mean I don’t like Delhi, I am taking on a lot of compromised media who I call Lutyens Media. There is also the National Media which should be replaced by this cabal. What is happening the viewership of this typical Lutyens media is dying today, a more nationalistic media is emerging.
tvnews4u: The legal Notice served to you by the Times Group on the phrase ‘The nation wants to know’?
Now Bennet Coleman & Co & the Times Group think they own the phrase ‘The Nation wants to know’,
This is my challenge to the Times of India Group and Bennet coleman & Co thru you I want a public Poll on this subject as to who has the right to use the phrase ‘The nation wants to know’, they or Arnab or rather I would say the people of India or them.
I want the results of the Poll to be put out in the front page of TOI in all their editions. Do they have the right and the exclusive right to use the phrase.
If I am doing a show The Nation wants to know I will register it for TM but that does not mean I stop others from using it . NO.
Nobody can stop anybody from using it, but they are saying is that we own it and we will stop everybody in India from using it. That I think is anti trust of the people of India.
So please do the Poll and publish the results don’t fudge it or manipulate it.
Despite the legal Notice I am going to be using the phrase nation Wants to know everywhere on the channel and my first words on the channel would be The Nation wants to know.
I now want to know if they can stop me.
tvnews4u: Would you be on Twitter ?
Twitter is a two way media, and I wont be able to answer everyone. So the handle Republic will be interactive and i will start a conversation with my viewers there daily.
As parting shot Arnab said As the nation wants to know when …soon I will be on air