Arnab Goswami ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai?

19 Apr,2017


By A Correspondent

There’s tension in the air in news media vice-capital Lower Parel (assuming Delhi and Delhi NCR constitute the Capital). As you read this, the battleground is being charted at Times Now headquarters in Central Mumbai. Ever since editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami quit Times Now in November and announced his intent to start his own news channel, it’s been a war.

At first, Goswami wasn’t allowed to say a formal goodbye to viewers, though his farewells at work has been well-youtubed. Which is fair as unless its pre-recorded and vetted, a channel wouldn’t want to be embarrassed on air by an outgoing captain, and so what if he was its face all these years.

And then as it emerged Goswami was serious about his venture, there was a fear of the unknown. The channel may still be #1 in overall data, but the numbers started falling and advertisers were beginning to question the premium on ‘super primetime’.

An all-out damage-control exercise started. Staff was motivated to stay back. A new chief editor was identified and hired, there was a clear second-in-command appointed and the content direction was further sharpened. The shrill quotient was upped.

Except that it lacked the gravitas and finesse of an Arnab Goswami.

There were rumours of another well-known editor being pulled in to join, but that didn’t happen.

Meanwhile, along with attempts to fortify the house, a counter-offensive started. The Newshour was trademarked, and Times Now even went to file for trademarking Nation Wants to Know – the slogan and the logo. The following month Republic TV also filed for trademarking these. All the applications have been objected to.

Meanwhile, both sides have been posturing to take on each other.

At FICCI-Frames in March, Goswami spoke of it being a David v/s Goliath battle. And he did that without naming Times Now, but it was all very clear.

Goswami has been on overdrive with his PR. He has hired Piyush Pandey’s Ogilvy & Mather for his advertising and Genesis Burson-Marsteller. His interviews are all over the media, to mainline newspapers, specialised magazines and even some YouTube shows. Some publications which carried offensive outbursts by Goswami have even been served legal notice.

Perhaps rattled with the following that appears to have increased ever since he left Times Now, the channel was quick to send a legal notice on the ‘Nation Wants to Know Usage’. This may be standard practice, but not being the first notice he received from Times Network, Goswami viralled an audio response to the notice.

At first Times Network sent us a statement even ahead of us asking for a comment. Here it was:

“ARG Outliers had filed for trademark for these and similar phrases which were already filed for and extensively used for years by TIMES NOW. We have responded with a standard caution notice. He is just trying to gain soundbytes from it”

We then asked Times Network on why it filed for a trademark when ‘Nation wants to know’ is, in a sense, a generic statement.

And this is the response:

“‘Nation Wants to Know’ is not a generic statement. It’s a phrase coined by the creative team of Times Now and made popular by repeated usage on our channel and is in essence a descriptor of the uncompromising tone of questioning that Times Now has been known for. The phrase like other similar unique phrases and words such as NewsHour, Action Begins Here etc., together create the News environment and experience that is embodied in the Brand Times Now. Protecting IPs and Brands is essential for the existence and survival of Businesses. Times Network is an upright and diligent corporate citizen and takes copyright issues very seriously. We are cautious not to wilfully violate and we are also alert in defending our IP. We filed for Trademark as we were expecting attempts to steal our IP.]

And then we asked why was Arnab Goswami threatened with imprisonment as part of a “standard caution notice”?

The response we received was this:

“Standard Caution notices quote from the law of the land and remind addressees about penal provisions on infringement – in this case The Trademarks Act 1999 and IPC 1860, which could attract Fines and/ or imprisonment.”

According to an Outlier insider, the filing of trademark for ‘Nation wants to know’ was for the name of a show. Perhaps. But not everyone believes that Arnab Goswami should go to town with his angst against Times Network.

These are standard tactics deployed by all marketers, especially those leaders whose status could be checked thanks to the launch of a new brand. In fact, a senior mediaperson said if Goswami were to overdo it, he could earn negative goodwill. “The Arnab Goswami brand of television journalism has its takers, and no one has been able to match him months after his exit, so there is no need of paranoia.”

And what about Times Now and the Times Network? Media observers believe that there is an urgent need to reinvent and rehaul. While the channel continues to top the ratings roster, its equity has reportedly dipped and consequently the revenues may be hit too.

While media might and distribution muscle can help it continue to be top-of-mind, it won’t be too long before competition catches up if the content is not n place.


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