29 May 2017 | Last updated 02:31 PM

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TRP war heats up as Arnab GOSWAMI is back on THE screen
BN Kumar | Sunday, 14 May 2017 AT 10:57 AM IST
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Arnab Goswami resurfaced on television launching his Republic Channel, five months and 18 days after he quit Times NowW. It was touted to be one of the most-awaited media house launches with creative ace Ogilvy running a massive pan-India campaign screaming across the billboards: The Nation Still Wants to Know - Arnab’s favourite punch line.

In fact, the preparation for the launch in itself is a case study material for media watchers like me. In Times Now, Arnab never believed in social media nor did he post either on Facebook or twitter. He also used to scream: I never rely on Google and I am not a Google journalist, obviously decrying fellow journalists who do online search for reference material.

As much water flowed into the Arabian Sea after he quit Times Now, and as Arnab travelled across the country campaigning for his channel, he too resorted to social media. One would wonder as to how on earth could Arnab have ignored the importance of social media in a country where the Prime Minister does not address the media, but tweets his announcements (or conveys his decisions to the nation during his monthly Mann Ki Baat over All India Radio).

Preparing for the launch of Republic, Arnab addressed several meetings of youth in particular in an attempt to identify himself with the voice of young generation.

Then, close to the launch of Republic, he started sending out pesonalised video mails addressed to people like Arvind Kejriwal (Dear Arvind, I am Coming…) and populated through twitter, whatsapp and what have you!

Arnab said he missed being in front of the camera and on the national television on several occasions. In a discussion, he literally blasted a questioner who asked: Arnab, did you miss the camera when Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister and when Prime Minister Modi spoke about Shamshaan, Ramzaan, Diwali, etc.

He bluntly told his questioner that the latter ‘did not know my style of journalism’. “I would have certainly raised my voice as I did on earlier occasions.” 

In this kind of backdrop, the launch of Republic channel is being viewed with plenty of interest. While admirers say that he is back with a bang, some others said the stories that he picked up - Sunanda Pushkar murder on day one and Lalu Prasad underworld connection on day two - would not cut much ice with the viewers. Shashi Tharoor already addressed a press conference challenging Arnab to prove his charges in the court while Lalu remained silent.

Meanwhile, Times Now continued to use Arnab’s favourite line ‘The Nation Wants to Know’ and a visibly perturbed Republic man said: Some other channels may use that line but what the nation wants to know is what we are reporting!

Then came Arvind Kejriwal controversies - first Kapil Mishra charges that the AAP founder took money and then the EVM hacking - followed by ICJ stay on Kulbhushan Jadhav hanging in Pakistan. It was again interesting to see all channels claiming they were the first to break these and each having their own set of multi-window interviews.

One does not need rocket science to know that while the English TV news channels might increase, their audience remains the same. Powered by the remote, this audience keeps surfing and switching over to other channels when they see the same news being played out the day in and day out.

Many news channels appear to count on youth viewers, which at best could be momentary. Today’s youth is more interested in Bieber shows and fashion trends than the news, which they get via various apps and messages. As Rajdeep Sardesai says, “My son does not watch TV channels for the news. He gets it on his mobile.”

As Republic continues to blast, other channels do not have much choice but to join the shouting matches, trying to outdo Arnab. TRP war is back. We the audience are the mute targets!

(The author is a Mumbai-based veteran media professional)

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