The ‘TRP scam’ has long morphed into a battle of the ideologies. In fact, it really started off like that when the Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh named Republic TV and hid the fact that the FIR which was filed, based on the Hansa Research Report, named India Today and not Republic TV, to begin with. Within 24 hours, the Mumbai Police had made up their minds that the Hansa Research Report and the FIR and the witnesses naming India Today were all wrong, and it was, in fact, Republic TV that responsible for the scam, not India Today.
Once the press conference on the 8th of October took place, the media went into a tizzy. India Today, NDTV, India TV and even Zee News and Times Now joined the cacophony against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami. What was the reason behind this? Was it a deep sense of morality and ethics that drove the conversation after Parambir Singh’s press conference? Was it their love for journalism? Was it even the soaring TRP of Republic that made other channels almost redundant?
In part, it was indeed about the soaring TRP of Republic TV. With a lion’s share in English News segment (up to 77%) and the fact that Republic Bharat had managed to overtake the reigning kings of Hindi news, AajTak certainly made Arnab Goswami and his channel the number 1 target. Coupled with the fact that Arnab had been making all the right noise as far as the ‘non-left’ was concerned. Ideologically, Arnab had to be destroyed because the Left simply could not have a channel that was presenting an alternate narrative to the Left and gaining most of the viewership in the process.
What was interesting, however, was channels like TimesNow jumping in to join the cacophony and vilify Republic TV.
TimesNow itself has been taking an editorial position that does not sit well with the Left. You see, Vineet Jain is a smart businessman who likes to hedge his bets – Mirror Now for the Left. TimesNow for the non-left. Be that as it may, for TimesNow to go after Republic TV without doing their basic research came as a shock to many.
Over time, Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar had made a reputation for themselves – they were decent investigative journalists and were often found on a side that was the non-left – they took on the Naxals, the Left, the ones screaming Azadi, the drug cartel etc. Editorially, they were often on the same page as Republic TV.
Then why did TimesNow join the cacophony even though the FIR and the Hansa Research Report named India Today and clearly, the Maharashtra government was using the state machinery, including the Mumbai Police to bring down Arnab Goswami with less than ethical means?
Simply put – professional jealousy. One has to recall that Arnab Goswami did quit TimesNow to launch Republic TV and one can’t forget the brouhaha it had led to. TimesNow had even gone to court to stop Arnab Goswami from using the phrase ‘The Nations Wants To Know’ after Republic TV was launched. TimesNow simply can’t stand the fact that Arnab Goswami quit the channel to start his own, and now, he is beating them black and blue as far as the viewership is concerned. For the others, of course, it was about vilifying Arnab Goswami and Republic TV just enough so they could target his advertisers.
It is to be kept in mind that even Parambir Singh during his press conference mentioned that he would be summoning advertisers of Republic TV and questioning them. Arnab Goswami revealed on air that Parambir Singh planned to do so.
So TimesNow, owing to its petty professional rivalry, decided to help the Left decimate Republic TV’s credibility and one of the source of its funds – advertisers.
Little did TimesNow realise that the help they were extending to the Left strategy in their strategy to pull Arnab Goswami down would pull them down too.
The Wire today has published an article that goes after the advertisers of “channels that spew venom”.
The Wire article has several quotable punchlines:
All responsible companies should boycott these venomous channels and civil society should mount pressure on them to do so, or face a boycott of their own products.
They are like brainless, amoral viruses which know only one thing – how to replicate and amplify their hate. The real villains are the hosts who provide shelter and sustenance to these viruses, but nobody is talking about them.
One would imagine that The Wire article only talking about Republic TV. After all, Times Now did help them run the campaign against it.
But then, you read closely.
To one’s horror, The Wire article mentions both Times Now and Republic. Lists their marquee advertisers by name.
Towards the end of the article, they write:
The lesson which emerges from the TRP implosion, therefore, should be that it is not only that channels like Republic and Times Now should be boycotted, but that the pressure and the boycott should extend also to those members of India Inc. who continue to support them with advertisements. For corporates, too, are citizens of this country and should be judged as such. It’s bad enough for them to cosy up to the government, but must they also jump into bed with bigots, mercenaries and fanatics? Surely, there are better ways of making money than by pandering to the mob on prime time TV.
So the plan here is to ensure that advertisers pull out of Republic TV AND Times Now. The same channel that helped them run a campaign against Republic TV when the facts did not support the claims implicating them in the TRP scam. When the facts pointed towards India Today. When the facts showed rather clearly that Arnab Goswami and Republic TV were being targeted simply because they dared to not toe the Left agenda.
So the Left has not spared Times Now simply because it toed their line? They are going after them regardless? Shocking!
Not really, though.
You see, the Left demands utter and absolute servility. It is not really like the non-Left where there exist a thousand shades and a million disagreements. The line is drawn in the sand and one is simply not allowed to cross it, as far as the left is concerned. TimesNow will never really be exempt from their attacks unless TimesNow becomes Mirror Now. The fact that it turned against Arnab Goswami and Republic TV to help them in their elaborate plan is immaterial.
Regardless, the Left is now asking advertisers to pull out from TimesNow. Regardless, TimesNow is still their enemy.
So what did TimesNow really achieve by not putting its professional rivalry aside and digging not the merits of the case? What did TimesNow really lose here?
Maybe not the advertisers – at least, not just yet. But what it did certainly lose is the faith it had carefully built within the non-Left ecosystem. The loss of faith might not last, but it will leave a lasting impression.
The Left does not really hate Arnab Goswami. They hate what he stands for and the fact that Republic TV is going against their Omertà and winning. By helping the Left decimate the non-left ecosystem, even though unsuccessfully, TimesNow has won no favours with the Left. It continues to be their target and it was evident even before The Wire article came out since Bollywood had filed a case not just against Republic but also TimesNow. What it has done is lost favour with a section of the non-Left who now see them as a channel that would join the Left, abandoning its supposed principles, the moment they get the chance to settle personal scores.
The biggest loser in this entire fiasco seems not to be Republic TV, but eventually, TimesNow.