Flix Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 05:30
  Perhaps the most exciting and impactful news from within the English TV news industry so far has been Arnab Goswami’s takeover of ET Now. As we reported this morning, Goswami has been appointed as the President – News and Editor-in-chief of Times Now and ET Now. We had in fact reported this in April, when initial reports of the takeover started coming in. The news is exciting enough for social media to have a field day creating jokes on Arnab, sympathising with employees of ET Now (and Sagarika Ghose). But what is this really about? What is Arnab, someone with no business journalism experience whatsoever, going to do heading a hardcore English business TV channel? From what we have been told by industry sources, and in our limited understanding given the intrigue with which Times group functions, there are three reasons behind this. 1. Times Now and ET Now are headed eventually towards an era of complete synergy, to build the brand of Times Television Network. The newsrooms could be merged, their content could be sourced and delivered through a parallel process and their web-strategy could also be coordinated throughout. 2. The Times TV management has realised that it is not enough to just chase numbers in the rat-race for TV ratings, they have to concentrate more on building the brand value for advertisers. This move is a business-decision, to allow their sales-force to pitch to advertisers that the might of brand Arnab Goswami is now behind ET Now too. 3. Just like what the group did with its business newspaper Economic Times, the management wants more content at the intersection of politics and business on their TV channel. ET Now, for that matter all business channels, are split broadly into two teams - market-hour and non-market programming. And during the non-market hours, which is the evening band, they want more exciting content. Bringing in Arnab will help Times Group achieve each of these above goals directly. This evening, after the public announcement of Goswami’s new role, a staff meeting was conducted at the ET Now newsroom at 4pm, when they were told by senior members of management why this was being done and what they can expect. The staff was told that Arnab will only be "monitoring" the functioning of the channel, and will not have a daily role to play. More specifically, he is only expected to look at the non-market content, since market-hours programming can be challenging for someone like him. An insider says that Arnab himself has accepted that “it is not his cup of tea”. This has brought some relief to the mid-level staff and junior staff of the organisation who were dreading the change in style of working they would have otherwise been subject to. The employees were also told that the decision to bring him in was more of a business and sales related strategy for better ad rates. At the same time, they were told to indeed expect changes. There will be, with immediate effect, a different style of content in non-market hours. Senior editors like Sandeep Gurumurthy, Supriya Shrinate and Nikunj Dalmiya are already reported to be working on newer formats and shows, which will bring in more synergy between political and business news. There are other worries in the mind of some employees. The smart ones know that synergy means less requirement of human resource. In the next year or so, more employees could be asked to pack their bags. The news was not entirely unexpected for the staff at ET Now, there has been speculation for months, and certainty for weeks. The resignation of senior editors like R Sridharan and Shailendra Bhatnagar from ET Now was also seen as a sign of changes to come. With the TV industry fast changing, and digital content becoming more important, it will be interesting to see how this experiment turns out.  
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