Reporting from the newsroom of Republic TV on day of launch
Republic TV, the English news channel venture of Arnab Goswami, went live on Saturday, May 6, 2017, at 10 pm amid much anticipation. With this Goswami returned to the news anchor’s seat after a hiatus of 5 months and 18 days – not debating or arguing this time, but sporting a reassuring smile as he addressed the nation in his 10 minute monologue.
Dressed in a blue suit and a red tie and wearing his hair longer than usual, Goswami said, “Hello, good morning and welcome my dear viewers of Republic. I don’t know what the nation wants to know today, but today the game has just begun. What a morning this is for me and my team and what an amazing feeling it is this morning to once again look into the camera and to be able to reach all of you, each one of you, directly once again.”
Goswami further said that he measured every day, every minute, every hour and missed every moment he was unable to speak to his viewers, connect with them and debate for them. He added, “I cannot even express this morning how helpless I felt on so many days and so many evenings when there was a news story that I wanted to debate, an event I felt deserved greater attention and a wronged that needed more determined exposure. On such days we felt frustrated, but even more determined to bring Republic alive and so we’ve built Republic.”
He also listed three objectives that Republic TV would work on – to move the centre of gravity of Indian media away from the political capital New Delhi, to build alive a spirit of pride in the nation and media, and to pursue real news stories.
In his closing remarks, Goswami said, “On a more personal level today, my dear Republic viewers, wherever you are watching this today, today is my day to say thank you to you. On the 14th of November I ended my last show on TV without being given a chance to even say goodbye to you. That made me and my team more determined to get back on air again. We worked very hard and we built a new-age network. The game has only just begun and we are back. Once again, we will debate. I promise you I’m not going away anywhere.”
Soon after the monologue, Republic TV aired their first investigative story – an expose on Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad and his links to RJD MP and MLA Mohammed Shahabuddin, a convicted criminal, and a series of their recorded telephone conversations. The story created political ripples on Saturday morning with Facebook and Twitter bombarded with reactions from politicians, leaders and common people. #LaluTapeExposed, #MAY6withArnab and #RepublicTV were trending all day on social media platforms. #MAY6withArnab was trending at #4 globally.
Incidentally, the Supreme Court today (May 8, 2017) has overturned the Jharkhand Court’s verdict dropping the criminal conspiracy charge against Lalu Prasad in the Rs 900-crore fodder scam case and ruled that the former Bihar chief minister will have to face trial in the case.
Goswami’s much awaited Prime Time debate at 9 pm continued with the Lalu tape expose, while the 10 pm show talked about why Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was not snapping ties with the RJD chief.
Adgully’s correspondent was present at Republic TV’s office on May 6 to witness first-hand all the frenzy and chaos of a newsroom operation. While on day one, we saw Arnab Goswami getting the most screen time on Republic TV, the channel does have an interesting team of journalists in place with anchors like Parikshit Luthra, Aditya Raj kaul, Shivani Gupta, Neeranjan, Deepti Sachdeva, S. A. Hariharan. The channel also has Niranjan Narayanaswamy as the Editor of Republic TV, Aishwarya Kapoor who is the political editor, Chitra Subramaniam as the editorial adviser, retired army officer and television personality Major Gaurav Arya who has his own show on the channel - Patriot
Other contributors on the channel include author and journalist Rahul Pandita; former cricketer and now a conservationist and author, Saad Bin Jung; former badminton player and Arjuna awardee Aparna Popat; world affairs analyst and dean of Jindal School of International Affairs, Sreeram Chaulia; and author Vikram Sampath.
Meanwhile, Republic TV threw its doors open to industry leaders to visit its offices and studios situated at Worli in Mumbai.
On his impression of Republic TV’s first day, Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Madison Media & OOH at Madison World, said, “To see Arnab back on screen was itself a great thing and he came back with a pretty big launch and had a great impact on the audience.”
Sanjay Tripathy, former Senior Executive Vice President, Head of Marketing, Analytics, Digital and e-commerce at HDFC Life, who visited the newsroom to congratulate the Republic TV team, remarked, “They came out with a high impact and attention grabbing story that immediately captured the nation’s interest. Superbly produced and well presented, day one was definitely a winner for Republic TV. With average age of under 27 years, the studio was buzzing with excitement and enthusiasm. I also liked the overall look and feel, production quality and integration with digital.”
On being asked whether the channel will be able to break through the clutter, Sakhuja said, “I don’t believe that the overall channel share of the English news genre will increase, so within that there will be changes. It is a very small and very influential kind of niche. Yes, it has the potential to break through the clutter, but then somebody else got to lose.”
Tripathy felt that they have quite a few aces up their sleeves and added, “When you combine all that with Arnab’s brand of journalism and his loyal fan base, I am pretty sure Republic TV will break through the clutter and shine.”
Meanwhile, thanking the viewers for their support and love, Vikas Khanchandani, CEO, Republic TV, told Adgully, “It has been a truly extraordinary launch. Arnab understands the pulse of the audience and their anticipation for his return has been well justified with the overwhelming response we have received from all over the nation. The journey, from the inception to the launch of the channel, has been phenomenal and we are certain that Republic TV will bring about a shift in the Indian media landscape. We are here to create a revolution."