Republic TV is set to launch a Hindi-language clone. A fundraising note for the Hindi channel is being circulated by the Gurugram office of Client Associates, a financial consultancy firm, and states that the firm has received the mandate to do so by the channel. The note further states that “with the Hindi news channel scaling up in the next few years, Republic plans to either go IPO or get a large strategic investor by 2020-21.”
Describing Arnab Goswami as a “celebrity anchor” and Republic TV as “the first English news channel in history to turn profitable within such a short span of time,” the note says that “the company now plans to enter the Hindi news genre ahead of the 2019 elections and is planning to raise INR 120 Cr, to set up a Hindi news channel under the ‘Republic’ brand.”
It is accompanied by a document titled Opportunity Overview, which contains several bullet points about Republic TV and the proposed Hindi channel. “Hindi news will strengthen the company’s broadcast portfolio, while its contents will feed into the company’s digital forays, thus providing additional avenues of monetisation.” The company being referred to here is presumably ARG Outlier Media Asianet News Private Limited, which owns Republic TV. “The Hindi News genre is ripe for disruption and will benefit immensely from Republic's brand credibility,” the note adds.
ARG Outlier was incorporated on in August 2016, and Arnab Goswami became a managing editor on 19 November—a day after his unceremonious exit from Times Now. The principle investor in Republic TV was Rajeev Chandrasekhar, then an independent member of parliament from Karnataka who had long been trying to get into the good books of Amit Shah, the president of Bharatiya Janata Party. Chandrasekhar, through his firm Jupiter Capital, invested Rs 30 crore in Goswami’s channel. Earlier this year, Chandrasekhar was sworn in as a member of the BJP. A day later, he symbolically resigned from the board of directors at ARG Outlier.
Even the most watched English-language news channels in India hold but a tiny audience compared to the Hindi ones. The latest data released by Broadcast Audience Research Council, or BARC, shows that last week Republic TV was the most watched channel in English News category. Though Republic TV’s rivals highlighted an anomaly in the channel’s ratings last year—a single household in the 61-plus age group in Gujarat apparently accounted for an improbable share of its viewership—even at face value, the impressions gathered by the most watched Hindi news channel last week, Aaj Tak, were nearly 122 times that of Republic TV. According to a bullet point in the Opportunity Overview document, both Republic TV and Client Associates are well aware of these numbers.