Two months after Arnab Goswami announced his departure from Times Now, new details are emerging about his venture, Republic. On December 15, Goswami had announced this new project and has since been on a high-on-rhetoric propaganda spree.
The News Minute has reviewed the incorporation documents of ARG Outlier Media Ltd. and SARG Media Holding Pvt Ltd – the two main companies in Republic’s corporate structure, as first reported by the Indian Express.
Before we get into the details of the two companies, an important point to note here is that one of the main investors in ARG Outlier (the company which owns Republic) is Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, through his company Asianet News Online Pvt Ltd (ANOPL).
ANOPL is the same company running Newsable, a multi-lingual digital platform from the Asianet group. TNM has since learned that not only is a restructuring underway in Asianet to consolidate all media holdings into a company called Asianet News Media and Entertainment Ltd, Newsable employees could be coopted into the Republic newsroom in Mumbai. Arnab's event posters shared on Republic's Twitter feed have Asianet Newsable logo on them, as you can see below.
Newslaundry has earlier reported on how Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s team at Jupiter Capital could have attempted to compromise the integrity of Asianet newsrooms by forcing them to fall in line with Rajeev’s seemingly right-wing ideology. The MP is the Vice Chairman of the BJP-led NDA in Kerala. His subordinate is reported to have asked journalists to follow his 'pro Army' line, even as he has significant investments in defence companies and was a member in the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Defence.
ARG and SARG
ARG Outlier is the company which will run Republic, and SARG is one of its main investors.
ARG Outlier was incorporated on August 8, 2016, indicating that Arnab’s plans to start the venture were in its advanced stages by then. It has five directors - Rajeev Chandrasekhar of ANOPL (Nominee Director); Ajay Rameshchandra Garg of Equirus Capital; Samyabrata Ray Goswami (wife of Arnab Goswami); Arnab Ranjan Goswami (Managing Director) and Mohit Jayanti Raghunath Dhamne (Company Secretary).
Goswami and his wife became directors in ARG and SARG on November 19, 2016, four days after Arnab left Times Now (he had resigned on November 1). Garg was a director of ARG since October, while Rajeev stepped in on November 24.
ARG has two main investors – Asianet Online and SARG, the latter holding more equity. Both ARG and SARG are registered at the same address in Lower Parel, Mumbai.
Asianet Online, Rajeev’s company, invested about Rs. 30 crore in ARG Outlier on November 19.
SARG has invested about Rs. 26 crore in ARG.
So, who are the directors and investors in SARG?
What do these names tell us?
IE has identified most of the investors here. Rajeev Chadraskehar, Dr. Ranjan Pai (who is investing through Aarin Capital Partners, which she started with Mohandas Pai) and other smaller investors seem to be the financial investors. By going in for several smaller investors and him holding the maximum share in the business, Arnab is attempting to create an ‘independent’ media organization of smaller investors, not prone to any one investor’s agenda.
With the Manchandas and Singhvi, the story is different. Not only have they invested some money, they bring along significant TV distribution prowess. In today’s TV market, even with a brand name like Arnab Goswami, if a news channel does not have proper distribution, it is likely to fail. And distribution can be very expensive. With the Manchandas on board, Republic would not have to worry about this at all.
Further, sources in Republic have also told TNM that a big media buying and planning group could also be a part of the venture, which would only make it easier for them to draw in advertising revenue.
The documents which are available in the public domain show an investment of not more that Rs. 56 crore in the venture, nearly not enough to launch and sustain a national English news channel. So, perhaps more investors are in the pipeline, or already in and we do not know about them.
With a bouquet of investors, powerful industry partners, and sources in the TV industry lobby in Delhi stating that Republic got its permissions expedited at a fast pace at the I&B Ministry, Arnab Goswami is likely to return strong and go on for a while.