India's arguably most viewed anchor bid farewell to his colleagues but not before a four-hour-long mega show he had planned to make his departure a spectacle turned into a damp squib.
According to people in the know of the developments, the mega show planned by Arnab Goswami even had India’s biggest Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and a host of top politicians confirming their presence but top brass of Times Now thought otherwise.
"The show is cancelled," announced Goswami, who spent some quality time with his staffers after hosting The Newshour. His last show was on 14 November, titled Arnab on Newshour. Thereafter, the shows went on without any names.
It was not immediately known why the last, signature show was cancelled by the Times Now management though insiders in the Times Now newsroom said members of the top brass of the channel had a brief conversation with Goswami, probably impressing upon him why a big bang sign out would be "a little unnecessary and not have the top management’s permission".
Once he realised the special show would not be allowed, Goswami, as told by witnesses, sat down with his newsroom colleagues and emotionally narrated — some of his colleagues even started weeping — how he worked tirelessly to make the channel South Asia’s number one. He exhorted his colleagues to remember how "you should not be afraid to question the rich and the mighty".
Aware Goswami would take loads of sheen and viewers along with him, the Times Now management is now into a virtual firefighting mode, the changeover, and fresh induction process being supervised by none other than Vineet Jain and Times group top editor Joydeep "Jojo" Bose, sources unwilling to be identified said. The two want to bolster their operations in the National Capital, especially in key areas like Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and the headquarters of Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party.
The channel is keen to have a bevy of anchors. Names floating in the market include Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV and Rahul Kanwal of India Today — who would be able to retain similar "aggression" like Goswami and constantly work towards getting the big scoops for the channel. Some sure shot names include former managing director at India Today, Network18, TV Today Network Ltd Vinay Tiwari and Hector of NewsX, the latter once colleague with Goswami.
While Goswami has kept his cards close to his chest, he has already asked a number of his colleagues to put in their papers. If sources are to be believed, he is personally in touch with people who he thinks will bring in value to the newsroom — cricket, corruption, cinema — are high on his agenda. "News must break with us first," he told those whom he had approached, and those who have been calling him ever since he has announced his departure from Times Now.
Interestingly, he is trying to pick up "hardcore reporters" in the hinterland. Goswami has already said he wants to be the first one in India to shift the focus of news out of Lutyens Delhi.
Those in touch with Goswami say the seasoned anchor has stressed on the big impact story, not necessarily from the New Delhi. Goswami has already made it clear that he is seeking to create a blast on the digital platform, indicating how a reporter should not call it a day just by telecasting his story. His real work would be to upload it on the web and then push it to be among the top trending ones. The journalists — some already armed with offers from Goswami — have started looking for the big stories.
Probably Goswami remembers how he could not go out with a big bang, and that it would be great to create one when he resurfaces in his new avatar.