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Republic TV

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Republic TV
Republic TV.jpg
Launched6 May 2017; 2 years ago (2017-05-06)
Owned byArnab Goswami
ARG Outlier Media
Asianet News
Picture formatMPEG-3MPEG-4/HD
2160p 4K UHD (Republic World)
4320p 8K UHD (Republic Bharat)
Audience share762 (August 2019, BARC India)
Slogan"You are republic, we are your voice"
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi,English
Broadcast areaWorldwide
HeadquartersMumbai, Maharashtra, India
Sister channel(s)R. Bharat
WebsiteRepublic TV
Streaming media
JioTV[1]
Republic TV Live[2]

Republic TV is an Indian television news channel.

Co-founded by Arnab Goswami (former editor-in-chief of Times Now), the channel was launched on 6 May 2017 as a free-to-air channel. The venture was primarily funded, among others, by co-founder Rajeev Chandrasekhar (then an independent legislator from the right-wing National Democratic Alliance) through his company Asianet News; Goswami became the majority owner on 6 May 2019, after Chandrasekhar pared his stake.[1]

Critical reception has been negative. It has been accused of practicing biased reporting in favor of the BJP and propagating fake news[2]. It has also been convicted of breaching TRAI and NBSA rules[3][4], leading to censures and subject to a high-profile defamation case by INC Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor[5][6][7].

History

Background

Arnab Goswami resigned as Editor-in-Chief of Times Now on 1 November 2016 citing editorial differences, lack of freedom and newsroom politics.[8][9] He hosted the last edition of his show[10] The Newshour Debate, a fortnight later.[11][12] Incidentally, the show was subject to an investigation by Ofcom, the UK government-approved regulatory authority for broadcasting, during the months of August and September; the investigation had held TimesNow guilty of violating the impartiality clause of its broadcast code.[13]

On 16 December, he announced he next venture, a news channel called Republic,[14] which was later changed to Republic TV in the face of complaints.[15] Republic TV was claimed to be India's first independent media that would 'democratize' news and compete with global media giants whilst being unabashedly biased for India.[16]

Funding

Republic TV was funded in part by Asianet (ARG Outlier Asianet News Private Limited), which was primarily funded by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a then-independent member of Rajya Sabha who had intricate links with Bharatiya Janata Party and was vice-chairman of the National Democratic Alliance in Kerala.[17][16] Among other major investors were Goswami, his wife, educationists Ramdas Pai and Ramakanta Panda—all of whom invested through SARG Media Holding Private Ltd.[18]

Chandrasekhar resigned from the board, after he officially joined the BJP on April 2018;[19] Goswami purchased back Asianet's shares in May 2019.[20][21]

Recruitments

S. Sundaram, who had served as the CFO for Times Now between 2005 and 2012, was named the Group CFO.[22] Chief Business Officer of Reliance Broadcast Network Vikas Khanchandani was made the CEO and co-founder of The News Minute, Chitra Subramaniam was roped in as the editorial adviser.

Others who joined included senior anchor of Thanthi TV S. A. Hariharan,[23] retired army officer and television personality Gaurav Arya,[24] former chief correspondent from Jammu and Kashmir for Times Now Aditya Raj Kaul, writer and founder-editor of Gentleman and Business Barons, Minhaz Merchant[25] and actor Anupam Kher.[26]

The Wire and Newslaundry had earlier chanced upon an internal memo floated by Chandrasekhar's group that asked for selective recruitment of right-of-center pro-military voices, who were conducive to his ideology.[27]

Launch

The channel was launched on 6 May 2017 as a free-to-air channel through most DTH services and cable television operators, alongside over mobile platforms such as JioTV and Hotstar.[28] Reporting on its launch, Business Standard wrote, "The company has already hired 300 people, of whom 215 are on board. A state-of-the-art-studio is being built in Mumbai's Lower Parel area."[29]

Reception

Public

The Financial Express noted the Republic TV to be the most watched English news channel in India for 100 weeks in a row since its founding.[21] The top news channel spot was taken over by DD India, a public service broadcaster, in February 2019, according to the Indian newspaper Live Mint.[20] In the first quarter of 2019, Republic TV and DD India have alternated for the most-watched channel position in the English channel news weekly ratings as measured by BARC India group.[30]

Arnab Goswami has been noted to be a critical factor behind the favorable public reception.[31]

Critical commentary

Modi’s supporters often get their news from Republic TV, which features shouting matches, public shamings, and scathing insults of all but the most slavish Modi partisans. Founded in 2017 with B.J.P. support, Republic TV stars Arnab Goswami, a floppy-haired Oxford graduate who acts as a kind of public scourge for opponents of Modi’s initiatives.
In a typical program, from 2017, Goswami mentioned a law mandating that movie theatres play the national anthem, and asked whether people should be required to stand; his guest Waris Pathan, a Muslim assemblyman, argued that it should be a matter of choice.
Why can’t you stand up? - Goswami shouted at Pathan. Before Pathan could get out an answer, he yelled again, Why can’t you stand up? What’s your problem with it?
Pathan kept trying, but Goswami, his hair flying, shouted over him:- I’ll tell you why, because—I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you why. Can I tell you? Then why don’t you stop, and I’ll tell you why? Don’t be an anti-national! Don’t be an anti-national! Don’t be an anti-national!...

Dexter Filkins, "Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi's India". The Newyorker. 2 December 2019.

The channel has been noted for its opinionated reporting[32] in support of Bharatiya Janata Party[33] and Hindutva across a wide spectrum of situations[34][35] including by presenting political opponents in a negative light and avoiding criticism of figures from ruling parties.[36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][13][44][2][45] It has also been alleged that the channel popularized the neologisms of Urban Naxal and Anti-national to denote those critical to right wing sentiments and evoke hyper-nationalism among the audience.[46][47][2] Attempts to quell communal tensions through irresponsible reporting containing religious overtones have been alleged.[46]

The channel has been compared to North Korean media for its extreme pro-government affinity and muzzling of dissent.[48][49] Noted political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot and journalist Dexter Filkins compares it to Fox News, an American TV channel that practices biased reporting in favor of the Republican Party.[50][45]

Vanita Kohli-Khandekar, over Business Standard, noted it to be a "noisy, chaotic place where coherent debate without shouting, screaming and name-calling is impossible";[51] others have noted of its shows to be a "battle of babble", judgmental, brash and hawkish.[52][53][54] Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar, in a Foreign Policy article, noted its coverage of the 2019 India-Pakistan conflict, to put jingoism ahead of journalism.[55] Historian Ramachandra Guha noted it to be a pro-government channel, which ignored issues of joblessness, agrarian distress et al. and instead took to demonizing Pakistan along with opposition parties, furthering religious bigotry in the process.[56]

Fact checkers have documented it to have propagated outright fake or dubious news, on multiple occasions.[57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66][67]

Controversies

Viewership ratings

Republic TV allegedly became the most-watched English news channel in India in its first week of airing with 21.1 lakh (2.11 million) impressions[68] and accounted for 51.9% viewership as per data released for the week by the Broadcast Audience Research Council.[69][70]

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) subsequently lodged a complaint with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) accusing the group of using unethical tactics for high viewership. It claimed that the channel ran multiple feeds over various multi-system operator (MSO) platforms and listed itself at multiple locations across various genres in the electronic program guide, in contravention of TRAI rules.[71][72]

TRAI cautioned the channel against such practices and determined the viewership numbers to be inflated.[73]

Defamation

Also that month, parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor filed a civil defamation case in the Delhi High Court against Goswami and Republic TV in connection with the channel's broadcast of news items from 8 to 13 May claiming his link in his wife Sunanda Pushkar's death in 2014.[5][6] Seeking the channel's response, Justice Manmohan of the High Court said, "Bring down the rhetoric. You can put out your story, you can put out the facts. You cannot call him names. That is uncalled for."[74]

IP rights infringement

In May 2017, Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. (BCCL) lodged a complaint against Goswami and Prema Sridevi, a journalist with Republic TV, under the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act, 2000 accusing them of copyright infringement.[75] BCCL alleged that the two, previously employed with Times Now, that it owns and operates, had used its intellectual property (IP) in telecasting certain audio tapes that were in their possession during their time at the former Channel. Alongside IP infringement, the complaint also alleged the commission of offences of theft, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of property, on the two, on multiple occasions days after the channel's launch.[76][77]

Regulatory Censures

On 30 August 2018, News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) of India demanded Republic TV to tender a full-screen apology for use of multiple objectionable words to describe a bunch of people at a political rally, who were harassing one of his journalists.[78] Republic TV "removed the video from its website and YouTube account" after receiving the complaint[79][80] but refused to comply with the NBSA order, instead filing an appeal.[78]

News Broadcasting Standards Authority, the self-regulatory broadcasting regulator of India asked RepublicTV to broadcast a public apology, after the channel declined to cooperate in a case accusing it of violating the standard prohibitions on racial and religious stereotyping and instead commented on NBSA having engaged in "intense pseudo-judicial oversight".[81] RepublicTV did not abide by the order;[81] incidentally, Goswami was the convener of the committee that drafted the code, years back.[82]

Bans from reporting

Reporters from the channel have been banned from attending any press conference of Indian National Congress, on grounds of its biased reporting.[83]

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b c Madan, Aman (23 January 2019). "India's Not-So-Free Media". The Diplomat. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  3. ^ "English news channel ratings: TRAI's intervention leads to decline in Republic TV's viewership". The Economic Times. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  4. ^ "TRAI rules against Republic TV's unethical distribution practices to boost ratings - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Congress leader Shashi Tharoor files defamation case against Republic TV's Arnab Goswami". Indian Express. 26 May 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Shashi Tharoor files defamation suit against Arnab Goswami, Republic TV in High Court". The Economic Times. 26 May 2017.
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External links