Mediaah! Because the Nation Seeks an Answer to the LCN mess!

19 May,2017

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

I have had mixed views on Arnab Goswami’s brand of journalism. But I do believe that there is a market for it. And for the last nine-odd years, his stock has been rising high.

I don’t think the screaming and shouting on the nightlies is the way to go about things, but I am in huge minority. I also believe that it’s important to have our news anchors ask the tough questions to the mightiest of politicians and authorities and not be a part of a cozy club.

Also, I must confess, on some issues that I feel very strongly about, it’s a delight to watch Goswami in action, demolishing the other side.

For instance, as MxMIndia Consulting Editor and senior journalist RanjonaBanerji has said, no one champions the cause of women’s rights as well as ArnabGoswami does. Okay, not in so many words, but you get the sentiment.

We don’t know the exact reasons why Arnab quit Times Now. The parting was amicable, though he couldn’t do a farewell show. But I tend to agree with MK Anand when he told me that it was impossible to offer a platform (on live television) to Arnab to host a grand farewell for himself.

But it’s been a war from the day he exited the Times Now headquarters.

ArnabGoswami has had friends in the right places. I remember how he helped invite Rahul Bajaj to an awards event of the Exchange4media group eight-odd years back. For Republic, he has managed to weave together an alliance of people who were willing to back his project, knowing fully well what his brand of journalism is all about.

Over the last few years, broadcasters have found a loophole in the distribution system where they manage to increase viewership by being available on multiple frequencies. Deals are struck with various distribution points to manage this.

Now there’s a government/TRAI regulation on this issue which is going to be finetuned further. But despite that there have been several attempts in the past:

For instance, when India Today relaunched. And then with the Union Budget for CNBC-TV18. Later Times Now did it around the UP elections.

According to information that we have, Times Now continues to employ multiple LCNs.

Meanwhile, ArnabGoswami is livid with the NBA and its functioning. He charges that there is a clear conflict of interest as Ashish Bagga who heads India Today is President and MK Anand, who runs Times Network, is the Vice Prez. It’s not the first time that a channel has complained about the NBA being partial given that its officebearers are from rival channels. In April 2009, Rajat Sharma’s India TV quit the NBA charging bias. According to a report in the Indian Express dated April 11, 2009, India TV had written to G Krishnan, the then NBA President and TV Today CEO stating: “The NBA Secretariat, under the presidentship of the channel head of TV Today group has become the personal fiefdom of the TV Today Group… we stood deprived of our invaluable right of personal hearing and representation through counsel.”

Very strong words, and even stronger words now from ArnabGoswami (See Television Post report: link)

Is there a way out of this mess? There’s got to be. All television channels must sit together and jointly agree to not go in for multiple LCNs and any other tactic on the distribution growth that is inorganic. And of course illegal.

Pulling out of BARC ratings will be counter-productive for television channels in the short run. Channels can’t be investing heavily on multiple LCNs and landing pages forever. A correction is bound to be seen, and eventually it will be quality content and of course marketing and distribution that will work for a channel.

The Nation Seeks an Answer to the LCN mess. It’s time someone from within the ecosystem steps in to broker a deal. Soon.

 

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