News anchor Arnab Goswami, Co-Founder and Managing Director Republic TV, returned to television screens after nearly six months on Saturday, to mixed reactions from viewers.
Goswami’s fans took to twitter to share their thoughts on the new channel while the critics of the Goswami brand of journalism slammed the news anchor.
#May6withArnab was, however, trending on Twitter since May 5 night in India and continued to trend reaching the number one spot on Twitter as soon as the channel went live. The hashtag also trended globally at the number 4 spot. Republic TV related hashtags reached about 130K mentions at last count with 100 tweets per minute. #MAY6withArnab alone received 75,000 mentions globally.
As the channel ran its first exposé on RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, #lalu too became a trending topic in India with around 40,000 tweets minutes after the channel aired the Shahabuddin-Lalu Yadav tapes.
Goswami began the live broadcast of Republic TV with a ten-minute monologue, laying down the channel’s agenda “to move the centre of gravity of the Indian media away from the political capital, to bring alive a spirit of pride in our great nation in the media, to pursue real news stories.”
Reactions from Day 1
Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, said that Goswami hit the right notes in his monologue. “These first ten minutes of Republic TV were the most awaited among the fans of Arnab Goswami, and he did them justice. The launch invoked and evoked the affection of Goswami’s viewers,” said Bijoor. He noted that the conversational style that Goswami used to address his viewers, breaking the fourth wall, could be the first time a presentation style has been employed by a news anchor.
Sharing his first impressions of the channel, N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, noted: “It felt like the channel is all about Arnab.” The ‘R’ in Arnab became the logo of the channel, he said.
Bijoor said that he liked the channel logo with a red dot after the R. “I liked the studio, the set, the name of the channel, and the colours. This is Day 1. It needs to settle down and it will settle down, I’m sure,” he added. Bijoor said that Day 1 could have been planned to be a soft day, even though the political exposé was a significant one.
Bijoor particularly likes the name and the logo of the channel. “It could have been called The Nation, but the word nation is in controversy because Arnab is credited with and has benefitted from the phrase ‘The Nation wants to know’. Since that is proprietorial phraseology, the Republic was a great choice,” he said.
Chandramouli said that the “pontificating” monologue from Goswami was not interesting. “The presentation style was too placid,” he said. Chandramouli further said that while the first look gave the impression that Goswami was trying to stay away from the look and feel of Newshour, the channel has some catching up to do in terms of the presentation of the content, and with regard to the graphics, especially because the content presented was not easily consumable on Day 1 of the channel.
However, branding experts Harish Bijoor and N Chandramouli both agreed that Goswami’s core ideal of moving the focus of the media away from New Delhi will be well appreciated by viewers.
In his monologue, Goswami spoke about the treatment he received from his former employer – the abrupt end of the show, the threats, and the legal notice he was served. Chandramouli felt that raking up those issues was not professional and a complete bore.
Highlights of Goswami’s first 10 minutes
Goswami said that nationalism is at the core of the channel’s values. “Being a nationalist is a prerequisite to being a journalist. In our reporting and relentless pursuit of the truth, our nationalism is our strength,” he said.
He thanked his supporters and fans for standing by him when he received threats and notices. Without mentioning the name of his previous employer, Times Group, he referred to those who sent him threats as unscrupulous.
Goswami was served a legal notice by his former employer, Times Group, to refrain from using the catchphrase ‘the nation wants to know’ that he popularised. In response to the notice, he said in a video that a legal notice will not deter him from using the phrase. And, on Saturday, Goswami went ahead and used the catchphrase.
Social media reactions
Social media reactions to the channel’s launch ranged from enthusiastic tweets from fans to memes and jokes.
The channel went live at 10 am on May 6, 2017, both on television and on the digital over-the-top (OTT) platform, Hotstar.