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Arnab Goswami, Swamy enter new territory with row over news channel 'Republic'

One of India’s most watched anchors, Arnab Goswami, and his perennial slugfest with Subramanian Swamy, considered the most vocal member of the ruling BJP-led NDA government, reached a different pitch with Swamy blaming the anchor for ignoring his advice and naming his yet-to-be launched media venture in violation of the country’s constitution.

But unlike the earlier television debates on Goswami's highly rated Newshour show on Times Now, this was a one way talk with Goswami not responding to Swamy's letter, nor to his provocative tweet about the new media company being named Republic.

Swamy told Firstpost that he had repeatedly called up Bengaluru-based media baron and BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar - who is among Goswami’s investors - not to name the media venture 'Republic' but his advice was ignored.

Arnab Goswami. Photo credit: Facebook

Arnab Goswami. Photo credit: Facebook

“I told him he was committing a mistake but he still went ahead and named the channel the way he wanted. How can you violate law?” asked Swamy.

No reaction was forthcoming from the office of Chandrashekhar. In Bengaluru, a consultant who closely works with the Rajya Sabha MP said only Goswami, who holds a majority stake in the company, was entitled to offer an answer.

“He is a one man show for the channel, doing everything from recruitment to procurement of equipment. Goswami and his team is neck deep into setting up the channel and the digital platform. He has no time on hand,” said the consultant.

Interestingly, a HR agency hired to provide leads for recruitment in finance and human resources departments for the Republic channel was asked to back-off after Goswami indicated to the investors that he would front such search. It is learnt that officials of Republic had been visiting the Indian Capital to meet venture capitalists and also equipment suppliers. “They need to raise more capital, though their initial budget was Rs 120 crore. They are now seeking almost Rs 200 crore,” says an observer.

But Swamy says he will not take silence as an answer.

“Goswami, who lectures everyone on every issue on the earth must realise he has committed a mistake and the company cannot be named Republic, it violates Indian laws. I told Rajeev a number of time to drop the name and call it something else, but it seems he has not taken me seriously,” Swamy said in a brief, telephonic interview.

“How can he (Goswami) violate the law, he is going everyone lecturing people to 'Join Republic, Join the Revolution'. What revolution is he talking about? Doesn't he know the name he has chosen cannot be used because the Indian law prohibits such usage. It is restricted under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950,” said Swamy.

Swamy said he was aware that a few Indian publications used the same name but he said two of them called themselves 'The Republic'. “I am not talking in thin air, it's a legal argument, and I intend to escalate it if the media house takes my letter (to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) lightly,” said Swamy, who tweeted about the issue, attaching a copy of his letter to his twitter handle.

The letter he wrote to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, reads:

“It has come to my notice that a new TV channel under the name and style of: "Republic" is in the process of being launched. The channel will be led by Mr. Arnab Goswami. It may be noticed that certain names and emblems are prohibited from being used under the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 for professional and commercial purposes. As per the schedule accompanying the statute, under Item 6, there is an express prohibition from using the phrase, "Republic". Hence the grant of license to a news channel to broadcast under the name of "Republic" will be contrary to law and a direct breach of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. Therefore your office may look into the use of "Republic" and determine if it is prohibited to issue a license under such name."

Their arguments, which were once limited to television, has now spilled into a new territory. Goswami, who has often claimed in interviews that he wants to take news away from Delhi, must slug this out in the Indian Capital.


Updated Date: Jan 26, 2017 14:16 PM

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