Posts Tagged ‘BCCL’

Arnab Goswami has done a fab job: Vineet Jain

10 December 2013
vineet

From left, Raj Nayak, Kapil Sibal, Vineet Jain, and Anurag Batra at the Impact person of the year event, in Bombay

Times group managing director Vineet Jain has been named person of the year by the industry journal Impact, from the exchange4media group.

In an accompanying interview, Jain junior answers a couple of key questions.

Talking to Ken Auletta of The New Yorker [last year], you said, “We are not in the newspaper business, we are in the advertising business… If you are editorially minded, you will make all the wrong decisions.” Do you think advertising carries the Times Group’s media products or content?

I wish to reiterate that we are in the advertising business and not in the business of selling news – and I’ll explain why. If we were in the business of selling news, then the cover price we charge readers should have made us profitable. Fact is, subscription price does not come even close to covering the cost of newsprint. As much as 90% of our revenues comes from advertising; effectively, therefore, our advertisers are cross-subsidizing our readers. Which is why I say advertising is at the core of our business model.

There is a whole debate about Arnab Goswami being a brand by himself, overpowering Times Now. Is that good or bad for the channel?

Times Now has dominant leadership now for over six years. Arnab Goswami has done an incredible job for Times Now, which has established itself as the ‘go-to-TV-channel’ for breaking news, big news and significant views. He is a courageous journalist and respected by viewers of Times Now. Further, the Times brand is what gives viewers the trust and belief in what he and his able team deliver 24 x7.

Photograph: courtesy The Times of India

Read the full interview: Vineet Jain

External reading: Why Uday Shankar should have won

Also read: An editor explains Arnab Goswami to an NRI

An Editor explains ‘Arnab Goswami’ to an NRI

19 November 2013

13-copy2

***

picture-20For most TV news consumers, Arnab Goswami is both a name and a phenomenon. But there are still large parts of the world to be conquered by Times Now‘s bulldog of an inquisitor.

B.V. Rao, editor of Governance Now, explains the name and the phenomenon to a childhood friend who lives in Canada.

***

Dear Sharada

Sometime ago during a Googlegroup discussion you innocently asked: “But who is Arnab?”.

In India not knowing Arnab is against national interest. You are lucky you live in Canada. But if you don’t want to be deported on arrival on your next visit, you better pay attention to this complimentary crash course on the subject.

Arnab, as in Arnab Goswami, is India’s most-watched prime time news anchor and editor-in-chief of Times Now*. But designations don’t even begin to describe him or what he is famous for.

You must have heard about hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Arnab is also a storm, a news-storm that hits India every night via his show, the “Newshour”. Nobody is quite sure how, but somehow Arnab gets to know the questions that the “whole nation” wants answers for, or the sinners the nation wants hanged before midnight that night.

In effect then, Arnab speaks for a “billion-plus people” each time he takes centre-stage.

I can’t say for sure if he took this burden upon himself voluntarily or if his employers made it a contractual obligation. Whatever it is, the fact is that Arnab has come to relish asking the most “simple and direct” questions to the most dubious people demanding instant answers to complex problems because the “nation wants to know” and it wants to know “tonight” as in right now.

That’s how impatient India has become while you’ve been away, Sharada.

***

The Newshour airs on weekdays from 9 pm and continues till Arnab’s pleasure lasts. Often the show stretches up to 10.50 pm. That’s actually “News hour-and-three-quarters-and-then-some” but I guess Arnab has not asked himself a “simple, direct” question: how many minutes make an hour?

That, or his primary school maths teacher is not his viewer. In which case it is safe to say Arnab speaks for a billion-plus minus one Indians.

You will see that at the altar of national interest it is not just the hour that is stretched.

About two decades ago, Dileep Padgaonkar was the editor of the Times of India owned by the Jains of Bennett & Coleman who also own Times Now. Padgaonkar had pompously proclaimed that he held the second most important job in the country after the prime minister’s.

Arnab hasn’t said it, but I think he disagrees with Padgaonkar on the pecking order:  it’s now the prime minister who holds the second most important job in the country.

Hence Arnab runs the show like he would run the country or like the prime minister should but doesn’t.

You see, Sharada, there’s an awful lot of stuff the nation wants to know by nightfall but our prime minister isn’t much of a talker. Arnab fills the need gap. He opens his show with a passionate agenda-setting preamble that spells out all the problems of the day and how he wishes to solve them. We gratefully receive this wisdom and call it Arnab’s Address to the Nation, a prime ministerial duty that has fallen on his broad shoulders because the real guy has abdicated it.

***

Let me tell you this, however. Arnab is a very reluctant power-grabber. It is not his intent to upstage the prime minister or make him look silly.

He gives the prime minister an entire day to prove his worth and gets to work only at 9 pm when it is clear that the latter can’t handle stuff.

He then solves all outstanding national issues of the day in just one 110 minute-hour of feverish debates where he grills the skin off the back of everybody who dares to stand in the way of India’s national interest.

He is unrelenting in his pursuit of the truth and doesn’t give up unless everybody has agreed with him.

“I am worried”, “I am concerned”, “I won’t let you politicise”, “I don’t agree”, “you can’t get away….” are some of the phrases he uses to suggest he is in complete control and that endears him to a nation starved of decision-makers.

Arnab hates home work. He wants to settle everything here and now, tonight. As a result, in Arnab country, there is no trace of the policy paralysis that has grounded the prime minister in the real country. Here you get resolutions, decisions, orders, diktats, judgements, justice and denouements all in one place, one show, by one man.

***

The only people paralysed are the subjects of his grilling and the bevy of experts he gathers around himself, not because he needs them, he doesn’t, but because it must feel awfully good to invite experts and out-talk them on national prime time.

Like confused baboons trapped in little boxes, the experts, who are neatly arranged around Arnab’s own imposing self in the centre of the screen, keep staring into nothingness most of the time.

Yes, you get the drift, Sharada, Arnab is the main dish here. The rest are just intellectual dips.

For most of their airtime the experts keep putting up their hands or calling out “Arnab….Arnab….” to indicate they want to make a point. Arnab is too engrossed in disagreeing with what he has not allowed them to say to care too much.

Some clever guests try to appeal to his Assamese roots by hailing “Ornob…Ornob”. He ignores them as well.

Nationalism, after all, is above parochialism. The cleverer among them have cracked the code: they just agree with Arnab in exchange for a little extra air time. These are usually the people who have paid close attention to Arnab’s Address to the Nation and picked up the right cues on what to say that will get them his benefaction.

It is tough to figure out why Arnab needs any experts at all because he knows the answers to all his questions. Times Now insiders say that more often than not he finds questions to the answers he already has. On his show, politicians can’t politicise, bureaucrats can’t beat around the bush, sportspersons can’t play games and lawyers can’t use legalese.

In fact anybody who is good at something can’t do what they are known to do, to the extent that even civil society can’t be civil, especially if it wants to get a word in sideways. Everybody has to be direct, honest, blunt and keep things simple because that is what the (one-man) nation wants.

***

Corruption, political expediency, opportunism, forked tongues, doublespeak, dishonesty and hypocrisy, are red rags to Arnab. He takes them head-on with the help of his reporters who keep throwing up “documentary” evidence ever so often to expose scamsters.

Usually this is a thick sheaf of indistinguishable papers that Arnab holds up threateningly. It could be a bunch of used airline e-tickets for all we know, but since we don’t, he waves the sheaf confidently in the face of the enemies of the nation and it is generally assumed he’s got some incendiary stuff in there.

Arnab’s problem-solving repertoire is not restricted to national boundaries. In fact, he is at his best when dealing with nations that have evil designs on India. The patriot in Arnab is best aroused when he is dealing with that evil, failed, rogue nation called Pakistan.

He deals with Pakistan like no prime minister has ever been able to or decimates it like no Army has ever managed to. Each time a blade of grass bends to the breeze on the LoC, Arnab breathes fire at Pakistan for trying to sneak in terrorists into the country. He lines up a battery of serving and retired generals of Pakistan and conducts the verbal equivalent of a summary execution.

Yet, the same generals keep resurfacing on Arnab’s show each time he feels the urge to have a Pakistani or two for dinner. This causes much wonderment among Newshour hounds on the masochist streak that makes the Pakistani generals offer themselves up as bait repeatedly.

So, it is assumed the money must be good. But since Arnab insists that Pakistan is the way it is only because the generals have sold their country cheap, it is unlikely he is blowing his budget for this routine cross-border target practice. Of course, left to Arnab Pakistan would have existed only as the largest crater on earth since the meteors wiped out all life on the planet. Yes, he would have nuked it many times over by now.

The Times of India, the country’s oldest English newspaper and the mother brand from the Times Now stable runs Aman Ki Aasha (Hope for Peace), the widely-acclaimed campaign for ending India-Pakistan hostilities.

Just as Arnab doesn’t seem to know of this campaign, the Times of India seems quite oblivious of the fact that the last time there was absolute peace on the LoC was when Arnab took a two-week holiday in early September. It could be the marketing genius of the Times group to milk the issue from both ends or it could also be that their internal boundaries are not as porous as our LoC.

Apart from conducting war exercises against Pakistan, Arnab land is eyeball-to-eyeball with China, exposes the double standards of America in almost anything it does and highlights the hypocrisy of racist Australia which loves the education dollars from India but not the brown students who come along with.

His blood boils so much when an old Sikh is roughed up by a bunch of racist women in the UK that he almost gets the whole of Punjab to rise in revolt against the Indian government’s inaction–even though there is nothing it can do as the gentleman is a citizen of the said country–or builds a tide of emotional revulsion against “inhuman” Norway for snatching an infant from his Indian mother’s custody for alleged physical abuse.

I can go on and on, Sharada, but everything good must come to an end and so must my Arnab eulogy.

***

So, in short and in conclusion, here’s what I have to say: Arnab is not just the editor-in-chief of Times Now. He’s India’s protector-in-chief. He is the guy who is keeping India safe while you are away on selfish pursuits. You are lucky you can get away by not knowing him.

For a billion-plus Indians,minus of course his maths teacher, that is not even a distant option. Because, truth told, Arnab is the best we have got!

B.V. Rao

***

* Disclosures apply

Photographs: courtesy Unreal Times and Governance Now

***

Also read: ‘Arnab Goswami is corrective to babalog media’

Three reasons Arnab Goswami should be PM

There’s a new ‘ism’ in town, it’s Arnabism

How seven cartoonists drew one TOI cartoon

27 August 2013

cartoon

As part of its dodransbicentennial celebrations, The Times of India has published “a cavalcade of cartoons over 175 years”. Titled “Jest in Time“, it is put together by Ajit Ninan, Neelabh Banerjee and Jug Suraiya.

At its launch in New Delhi on Monday, seven well-known cartoonists—Sudhir Tailang from Deccan Chronicle, Manjul from Daily News and Analysis, Keshav from The Hindu, Jayanto from Hindustan Times and R. Prasad from Mail Today—joined hands to produce a cartoon (in picture, above) on the spot.

Saira Kurup reports on the jugal bandi:

“Keshav set the tone by drawing the new common man forced to tighten his belt in difficult times. Tailang followed with an illustration showing P.V. Narasimha Rao giving his ‘student’ PM Manmohan Singh a poor report card. Manjul’s version of the common man was one who doesn’t speak but tweets instead!

“Jayanta then drew the laughs by drawing a neta with a loudspeaker as his head “because netas are not doing what they are supposed to; they just keep shouting!” To audience applause, Ninan put the artwork in context by sketching Parliament, and Banerjee gave the final touch by showing the common man holding up the House on his shoulders.”

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Former TOI group vice-chairman no more

22 June 2013

RCcooper

sans serif records the demise of Rustom Cowasjee Cooper, a former non-executive chairman of The Times of India group, in London on Tuesday, 18 June 2013. He was 91.

Mr Cooper, an accountant by training, won the bank nationalisation case in 1971 and was a general secretary of the Swatantra Party, C. Rajagopalachari‘s party that was opposed to Nehruvian socialism.

Hat tip: Law and other things

Also read: TOI reports first Indian sub’s death after 22 days

Why Times Now doesn’t share TOI’s Aman ki Asha

28 May 2013

On its edit page today, The Times of India has provided an extraordinary explication of the guiding philosophy behind the various newspapers, radio and TV stations that are part of the Times group: federalism.

Authored by Kaushik Murali and Saubhik Chakrabarti, the 926-word piece says this federalism means Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL) has no “house view or line”: its many publications are free to do what they want.

This allows them to evolve, in different ways, with different views, approaches, at different paces, and in response to different challenges and consumer needs.

“To illustrate, if TOI were to be considered the main BCCL publication, many times the Navbharat Times‘ coverage may be opposite of TOI‘s.

“The entire format and design of city-specific local newspapers like Mumbai Mirror will always be different from that of TOI‘s, TOI Crest will have a different style of journalism to TOI‘s and NBT is sometimes found to be running editorials with a headline that proudly proclaims “TOI ke virudh“!

“In fact, much to the consternation of many, Times Now anchors are seen fulminating against Pakistan, sometimes on the same day as TOI carries the Aman ki Asha campaign! Essentially, then, all newspapers within the group have the freedom to have entirely opposing viewpoints — unparalleled pluralism — on the same topic.”

Read the full article: Federalism: the BCCL bedrock

The capital ‘I’ returns to The Times of India

27 May 2013

The capital ‘I’ doesn’t appear on the pages of The Times of India, not on the edit page, not on the commentary page. That’s one way of keeping commentators from preening in the first-person.

And that’s by order from the very top.

But as the paper turns 175 and launches the ‘I Lead India‘ campaign in association with Maruti Suzuki, the dreaded ‘I’ returns, in ads,  in hoardings, and in BCCL chief marketing officer Rahul Kansal‘s opening essay.

The ‘I’ here, of course, is You.

So, how many journalists cracked CAT 2012?

15 May 2013

Serving warm, uplifting news first thing in the morning is an integral part of The Times of India‘s sunny credo, a point which comes up over and over in presentations made its managers, and on the pages of the paper.

Today, the paper serves it up by the bucketful with the story of N. Shiva Kumar, a newspaper vendor in Bangalore—the son of an illiterate mother and a truck driver—who has cracked CAT 2012 and is headed to the Indian institute of management, Calcutta, as a student.

“Shiva Kumar found an opportunity to be a vendor and started his own agency when in Class 10. “I’d learnt the tricks of the trade by then. My vendor had some 50 extra copies to sell and I took them from him. That’s how I started,” he said. The 50 copies have now grown to 500.

“After school, I would take my cycle and identify new buildings and residents. I would approach them for business and ensured the papers reached before 6am. I had my own targets for a month,” he explained his marketing tactics. He still delivers the paper along with four of his delivery boys.”

The story is the second lead in the Bangalore edition of TOI; it is the bottom anchor in Bombay and Delhi.

Read the full story: Newspaper boy walks into IIM

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: Another substandard post by unqualified journo

Yes, Kofi Annan is a dish, Teesta Setalvad is an actress

New Yorker carries TOI response, 7 months later

11 May 2013

Exactly seven months after The New Yorker carried a nine-page profile of Samir Jain, Vineet Jain and The Times of India by its acclaimed media critic Ken Auletta, the magazine has carried a response from TOI’s executive editor, Arindam Sen Gupta, in its May 5 issue, on medianet, private treaties and other subsidiary issues.

Image: courtesy The New Yorker

Also read: Samir Jain, Vineet Jain & TOI in New Yorker

The Times of India and the Commonwealth Games

How The Times of India pumped up Anna Hazare

POLL: The biggest news story of last 175 years?

23 April 2013

The Times of India, formerly known as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce, has kickstarted its 175th anniversary—its dodransbicentennial—celebrations.

Under the rubric “Leading change for 175 years”, R.K. Laxman‘s iconic dhoti-clad Man from Matunga under goes a partial makeover, with one half wearing jeans and goggles.

***

On its website, ToI has launched a microsite and there is even a poll on the biggest news story of the last 175 years.

Editorial director Jaideep Bose aka JoJo has a signed piece in the paper, and there will be a full page of archival material in the paper each week for the next one year.

Writes JoJo:

“The fact that this paper has grown from a single edition of a few thousand copies to some 50 editions with a circulation of close to five million — the largest in the world for any English newspaper by a long margin — speaks of its ability to divine the ever-changing mood of this chaotic, contradictory and creative superpower-in-waiting, which lives in many centuries all at once.

“Which big brand in India (and how many globally) can claim to have been around 175 years ago and grown the way The Times of India has? We are often asked, how do you do it?

“The secret, we believe, lies in being contemporary and relevant — the “Old Lady of Boribunder” remains young at heart, nimble on her feet, and razor-sharp up there. Incredibly proud though we are of our heritage, we don’t sail solely on it, but work continually to leave behind a legacy even more iconic than the one we’ve inherited.”

ET’s advice to media: move on, let go

19 March 2013

As a wave of earnestness sweeps across newsrooms over the Delhi gangrape, The Economic Times strikes a blow against the emerging political correctness:

“The media, the general press especially, must recognise that neither public purpose nor journalistic remit is being served by what sometimes appears to be a predetermined decision to find a ‘Nirbhaya headline’. Two unwelcome consequences follow whenever the media refuses to let go and move on in such situations. One, the lack of broader relevance of such stories becomes painfully apparent.

“Two, such stories begin, even if unwittingly, to trivialise the memory of the person and invade the privacy of those who loved her most. When such consequences become apparent, and they clearly are now, the media must self-correct . The bigger lesson here, one that the media should always remember , is that public discourse is inherently dynamic and many-layered.

“Changes, shifts, variety and multiplicity are its defining attributes. No single story, no single newsmaker, no single tragedy or triumph can really define public discourse. Therefore, efforts to impose a single narrative – no matter how well-intentioned – will always seem contrived. The sooner the general press realises this, the better it is for everyone and everything, not least the memory of Nirbhaya.”

Read the full editorial: ‘Media mustn’t force headlines’

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