Republic TV: A One-Man Movement?

21 Apr,2017


By Shailesh Kapoor


It’s a new English news channel. It has a strange name, and is in the middle of an active, and rather peculiar, launch campaign. The launch date is not out yet, but ArnabGoswami’sRepublic TV is coming soon.


But the campaign would rather say #ArnabWithYouSoon. Each video, PR article or promotional tweet about the channel has an unmistakable ArnabGoswami element to it. In many cases, that’s the only element.


Three years ago, making a face synonymous with an organisation worked wonders. The face was NarendraModi and the organisation the Bhartiya Janata Party. TV channels can be slightly different though. Much as one person can pull in the audiences initially, you need to offer a strong second line to keep the 24-hour ship running.


It could be argued that Republic TV will have a strong second line, and the one-man approach is only for the launch campaign. Goswami’s well-cultivated and well-marketed disgust towards other senior members of his community is well-known. Hence, one expects to see only younger faces on the channel, and it may take a while for the channel to go beyond that one show which Goswami will helm.


But Goswami has shown in the past that he can be like the fearlessheroes of those awfully titled South dubs on Hindi Movie Channels – One Man Army, Yodha: Man On A Mission et al.He may not need much support by the way of his second line, at least initially. He could be on-air for 4-5 hours a day, if that’s what makes his channel topple his ex-employer and now his targeted rival.


Oddly though, the channel’s website says prominently: “Republic is your movement”.It’s this dichotomy – of a one-man channel at one end and a people’s movement on the other – that requires some demystification. What exactly, except Goswami firing questions, which ordinary Indians want to ask but cannot, at the rich and the famous, will constitute a people’s movement? If it’s only this one thing, it’s called Newshour and we have seen it before.


Newshour had not lost its relevance when Goswami went off air. Far from it. It was his debate show, and when it’s back, with a new name on a new channel, it will find the Newshour audiences in good measure. Is that differentiated? Yes, but only because the leading man is differentiated. Everything else about the channel seems like scenery, waiting to be chewed up by him eventually, even if the marketing campaign makes a big deal of it using phrases like “independent” and “people’s movement”.


The other potential concern with the campaign is an overkill before the actual launch. There was certain intrigue about waiting for Goswami to come back on-air. Over the last two weeks, with all the promos, the press statements and the public appearances, that intrigue has started to dilute. It will be a fine marketing balance to achieve, where one needs to build awareness and yet keep the intrigue factor going.


The next few weeks will tell us how things unfold. Nothing but the most outstanding results would be expected from Republic TV, given the hype, a lot of which they have consciously created. If Republic TV is not the # 1 English News Channel about 2-3 months after its launch, the ArnabGoswami brand will come under the scanner. But if it knocks the competition out in the same period, you can be sure the man will let you know the minutest detail, down to the second decimal place.


Let the fun begin!


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