If Amitabh Bachchan is Big B of Bollywood, Arnab Goswami can be called the Big G of Indian electronic media. Love or hate him, you cannot ignore him. There will be hardly any news viewers in the country – even if they hardly tune in to English news channels – not knowing the name ‘Arnab’. Many even watch the English news, to be precise Times Now, only to watch Arnab. They don’t bother what is the topic of discussion. A busy person like Mukesh Ambani has admitted on NDTV that he used to watch the ‘greatest anchor’ at 9. Name any politician – national, state or even district level – who does not know him. Everybody has an opinion about this news anchor. Most of them feel strongly in favour or against him. India has never witnessed such huge following of a media person. It’s seen only in case of politicians, not anybody else.
Arnab’s reported resignation – he has not admitted openly yet – is the biggest news of Indian media about the media, or rather a media person. There are reports of his plans for launching an international media organisation based in India. In fact, he gave clear hint about his big plans in a couple of platforms. In a discussion of Russia Today last year featuring him among four other penalists, Arnab rued the ‘western hegemony’ over the world media and advocated for creating a balance by launching a platform from country like India. Obviously, the Indian penalist was the centre of attraction of the entire discussion, although the anchor jokingly reacted to a typical pinching remark from Arnab as ‘I heard you were a shy and retiring person’. At a Confederation of India (CII) event, Arnab was seen seeking ‘support’ from journalists and others for making India the world’s media capital.
By quitting Times Now, which already set a benchmark for Indian media – right or wrong – changing the way news anchors behave with penalists, Arnab has raised the expectation level much higher. It remains to be seen whether the noisiest anchor will raise the decibel level on a different screen very soon or he would go into hibernation to do the ground work before coming up with a Big Bang!
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on November 4, 2016)