Arnab Goswami, President, News, Editor-in-Chief of TIMES NOW, ET NOW and Magicbricks NOW speaks about ‘what next’ on the back of the ten year Milestone achieved by Times Now, reasons on wanting to remain the ‘Deer’ in the business, playing the game with the hunger on a number 2 and not the complacency of a Number 1.
The channel which was launched on January 31st 2006, today has a 58% overall market share during prime time in the English News category (Source: BARC| Period: Wk. 52’15-03’16 |Market: All India 1Mn+| TG: NCCS AB Males 22+| Day part: 2100-2230, Monday- Friday| Weekly Share % Average)
It has a 43% market share in the English News category (Source: BARC| Period: Wk. 52’15-03’16 |Market: All India 1Mn+|TG: NCCS AB Males 22+| Day part: All days, 24 hours| Weekly Share % Average.)
“The next 10 years are going to be fantastic. And personally, I think for team the next 10 years will be 10 times more exciting than the last ten years” says an upbeat Goswami.
Here are edited excerpts from the conversation ………..
‘What next’ for Arnab Goswami?
Something totally different, completely new and something which has not been done before. Things that I am toying with right now bear fruits in the next 12-24 months.
I have not completely crystallized my idea. When we started the channel, we started from scratch. I am not going to let the success of News Hour get to our heads. I have told my team to cherish the moment of leadership but also to be aware that they must be prepared and agile for the next 10 years. So, we always tell the story of when we launched our channel we said there is the Elephant, the Horse and the Deer.
The Elephant was NDTV; the large channel with massive infrastructure moved very slowly and still moves slowly.
We said that the Horse is CNN IBN; it just got an early start because it was launched six weeks before us. But it runs out of energy very soon which is exactly what happened.
We have to be like the Deer; which is fast and pirouettes around and changes direction. By virtue of changing direction we are different. And our ability therefore to out-think the competition is always there.
Eventually, the Deer wins the race. We want to remain the Deer in the business.
What is it that you want to change in journalism? Do you think it is still subservient?
I agree with you on subservience. I want to change that. I want to take some young people and tell them to stand up, do news with the sense of dignity and pride. I want to tell younger journalists out there who are waiting to come into this profession that we are here to look out for you, and we want to create a professional atmosphere in news where simply because of the success of the news that you do you will never have to bow down before any politician or corporate. We want to therefore, create a culture of independent media where we want the audiences to be so large that we will never need to be in a negotiation with someone trying to influence our news. And I think, over the last five to six years we have managed to do that. Today, whether it is a corporate or politician, he would never try to dictate terms to this channel. That’s been our biggest success and I hope to magnify that.
I want to make English television news very popular and reach at least about a hundred million plus people every night. I have already managed to stretch it from about 5-6 million to about 20 million, especially in the last six years. I want to take it from 20 million to 100 million plus and I want to do that in five years.
How do you strike the balance of maintaining your position, and taking the next leap on a daily basis?
I just tell myself that every day is a fresh day. You are as good as your last show and your last story. You can win for thousands of weeks but if you lose one week, you still lost. So, we play the game with the hunger of a No.2 not with the complacency of the No.1 every editorial list is a new list, you can’t afford to lose a single day. You lose a single day, you lose one big event. It can have a cascading impact on the rest of your career. So, we are always very careful to ensure we defend our No.1 position.
Advertising revenues do play an important role, how do you handle the pressures? Has there been a situation where you are forced to take a call, does that get more difficult or has it become easier now?
Well! It has become easier. You want the truth? OK. Here’s the story, after we did a fairly cynical, aggressive coverage against the massive celebrations for Mulayam Singh Yadav’s birthday, and the rest of the media followed it. The weekend after that the Samajwadi Party wanted to put out an ad on our channel wishing Mulayam Singh Yadav on his birthday. That would have made a lot of money for the channel but we said ‘No’. Because you need to take a stand.
It has become easier for us to say ‘No’ because we are not dependent on political parties’ money and I think there are very few media organisations which can say this.
In these 10 years, what is it that has changed in you and the journalist in you?
I have become more focused now. I have realized over a period of time that you cannot do everything but what you do, you must do really well. So, I have now been focusing on a fewer things and doing them well and ‘News Hour’ is one of them. Second thing is that I actually delegate much more today than I did ten years back. I would want to control every part of a news channel. Now though I lead more channels, I have delegated 80 per cent of my work.
Is it easy for you to delegate?
It is easy if you trust people, if you find the right people to trust you in turn, then I think it works better. Trust is a beautiful thing, once you do that, that’s when people stay with you. The best part is almost 100 people stayed with me from day 1 to now and it’s a huge number. So, I have matured far more as a professional.