Arnab Goswami's Republic may not be as independent as it claims to be

The supreme leader of loud, incoherent debates ought to get off his high horse.

 |  3-minute read |   13-01-2017
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Arnab Goswami, even before his channel is on air, has successfully managed to create every kind of noise around it – the kind you’d expect to hear in any random episode of The News Hour. After quitting Times Now as the editor-in-chief, Arnab Goswami had announced the launch of his own news channel, a venture that would be mark departure from what is traditional journalism and something that will decidedly be “independent” of biases. This venture is called Republic. Speaking at the 10th anniversary of IEEMA (Indian Electronic Equipment Manufacturer's Association), Goswami said that Republic will be a global media venture, parallel to the BBC and CNN.

Even though it was reported earlier that the channel would be launched on January 26 (symbolic considering it is Republic Day), in a recent interview with ScoopWhoop, Arnab Goswami said “We are going to launch when we are ready.”

repub_011317020013.jpg Goswami said that Republic will be a global media venture, parallel to the BBC and CNN. [Photo: DailyO]

The media venture that has been on the radar of every media consumer and creator in India, has already managed to catch everyone’s attention with their social media promotions. And from the look of things, this new venture will be epitomise the Arnab Goswami brand of kangaroo-court journalism.

While Arnab claims to be loud with narratives and base his journalism on something beyond facts (some would call this "post-truth"), the matter boils down to one important thing though: How independent is "independent media"?

Gowsami, at the Under 25 Summit in Bengaluru, reportedly said, “You and me, together, will save Indian journalism from the influence of Lutyens’ Delhi. Take journalism outside Delhi. Take it to Pune, to Guwahati, to Bengaluru, to Mumbai, but the national capital. They are so compromised, so co-opted that they have no right to represent the people.”

Perhaps, Goswami’s venture, even on his own terms, does not meet that requirement.

Here's why.

1. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, one of the largest investors and a director in Republic, has been a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka since 2006, was appointed vice-chairman of NDA in Kerala in September 2016. Chandrasekhar has invested over Rs 30 crore in ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, the company that owns Republic.

chamndar_011317020521.jpg Rajeev Chandrasekhar. [Photo: Indian Express]

2. SARG Media Holding Private Limited, owned by Goswami and his wife Samyabrata Ray Goswami, is also one of the main investors in ARG Outlier, and has invested Rs 26 crore in ARG Outlier.

3. The largest investor in SARG is Ranjan Ramdas Pai of Aarin Capital Partners, which he co-founded with Mohandas Pai. He has, so far, invested Rs 7.5 crore.

4. Rajeev Chandrasekhar founded Jupiter Capital in 2005, with an initial investment of $ 100 million and now has investments worth over $ 800 million in technology, media, hospitality and entertainment. According to The Indian Express, on September 21, Amit Gupta, CEO of Jupiter Capital, in an email to editorial heads, specified a few requirements for the editorial staff.

His mentioned criteria required the editorial staff to be "right of center", "Pro-India”, “Pro-Military", etc. The email ended: “Offers being rolled out shall be summarised and shared with Chairman’s office as regards the credentials (only) and hiring managers have to ensure that the above has been ticked appropriately.” The following day Amit Gupta requested the editorial heads to ignore the email.

Is this how "independent media", the ones that will challenge "Lutyens' Delhi's" corrosive, "co-opted influence" on journalism, will be financed? By openly liaisoning with members of the ruling party, with officially pushing a pro-establishement line, by aligning with the current government's idea of what is nationalist, by being "pro-military" while soldiers go hungry at the border, unfairly superceded lieutenant-generals feel disgruntled and let down, veterans go without an equitable pension scheme?   

Maybe the supreme leader of loud, incoherent debates ought to get off his high horse.

Also read - Nation confused. Arnab Goswami attacking his own kind of journalism


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