Times Network MD & CEO MK Anand speaks out on l'affaire Arnab

MUMBAI: Times Network MD & CEO MK Anand is known to be a rather reticent kind of executive. He would rather keep a low profile and speak only when he is approached. So, when he decides to open up to the media, there’s obviously something he wants to set right.

Says he: “Ever since Arnab’s departure, the rumour mills have been running amok and a lot of canards have been let loose. I would like to set them right.”

According to Anand, first is the buzz that Arnab left because he was being sidelined, and that he did not have much editorial independence. “The fact is that there was zero pressure on him,” he says. “We don’t meddle with the editorial policy. I have spoken to him on content matters only twice since I have been here. And, the shareholders do not really get in to day-to-day operations at all.”

Anand shares that it was Arnab who announced his departure to his team before putting out his resignation to him, and let it to go viral on social media.

“We share a good relationship. We continued carrying his picture and name on the shows he used to host for a long time even after he announced his departure. Even on the last day, I had lunch with him and there was no negativity. I would have loved to retain him. I was saddened to see him go and, of course, I miss him," he acknowledges.

Anand berates the fact that there seems to be a campaign to malign Times Now. “People were saying that Times Now and Arnab are synonymous. That Times Now has sunk after Arnab. BARC data shows otherwise. Week 1-45 of this year, Times Now had an audience share of 41 per cent; week 46-50 it has the same 41 per cent,” he says.

Then, there is the rumour that the news channel lost Rs 100 crore in revenue post-Arnab. “Untrue again. While I believe it's worth that much, I wish we made so much money on NewsHour that he used to anchor,” he expresses.

Market estimates are that Arnab’s prime time shows contributed around Rs 50-60 crore to the channel’s top line, figures which Anand is unwilling to confirm.

“The advertisers who were there when Arnab was anchoring are there even when he is not,” says he. “Just take a look at the Adex data for October and November.”

What Anand wants to finally rectify is the perception that hordes of journalists have followed in the wake of Arnab. “Times Now has 320 employees,” he says. “Nine have left. We have a normal attrition rate of 25 per cent which is about 80 people leaving each year or around six to seven staffers each month. If we lose nine people, it does not mean there has been an exodus. 311 staffers have chosen to stay on.”

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