Arnab Goswami speaks during COVID-19 lockdown

He wants ad agencies, marketers and the government to support news channels.

MUMBAI: You can't keep Arnab Goswami out of the news. Soon after chucking up his membership of the Editors Guild of India, he is now seeking succour for TV news channels as president of the News Broadcasters Federation - a coalition of 300 of them. The bespectacled journo, who is not known for mincing his words, wants to make a clear appeal to advertisers, agencies and the media frat to help the news broadcasting sector, during the Covid-19 lockdown phase which has led to the erosion of both their top line and bottom line. News television, which mostly relies on ad spends to fuel its operations, has seen the latter getting shaved even as viewership has multiplied manifold.

Goswami, who is a founding member and editor-in-chief of Republic Media Network, had an exclusive conversation with during the course of which he said that he was making an outreach to brands, ad agencies, and media that they "need to look upon news as essential service and I request them to come forward and show greater support to the news channels.”

The NBF president believes that the federation has greater responsibility towards the media industry and must support those who may not be leaders in their specific regions.

Recently, the NBF urged advertisers and advertising agencies to refrain from renegotiating their on-air TV commercial and sponsorship deals when the news broadcasters are ramping up their COVID-19 coverage, despite the fact that operating costs are rising alarmingly.

“I have been working hard for it and am willing to engage with my friends in the media industry to take this further," says Goswami. "It is said that advertisers are cutting down the effective rates in the current scheme and there are chances that this will worsen things, especially for regional news broadcasters, putting a question mark on their existence."

Not just from advertisers, the NBF president is also considering requesting a comprehensive stimulus package from the government for the TV news broadcasters. In this regard, the federation has written a letter to union information & broadcasting (I&B) minister Prakash Javadekar for an appointment of e-meeting through video-conference as per his availability this week.

Points out Goswami: “This is a difficult time for the broadcasting industry and as president of NBF, I look forward to meeting the I&B minister during which we can discuss the measures the government could take to help the news broadcasting sector, which is reeling under the burden of operating costs and despite performing its duty at this testing time.”

The issues that the federation would like to discuss with the minister during the e-meeting are satellite and bandwidth charges, Prasar Bharati and DD Free Dish, DAVP pending payments, unrestricted availability of FTA new channels, governmental support and liquidity issues.

The NBF president also put his weight behind viewers for standing tall with the news broadcasters. He says: “Television and digital consumers are making obvious choices as to who is serving the nation and its people and those who are against the national interest. The latter is of course failing to gain any viewership,” he concluded.

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