Arnab Goswami of Republic TV portrays himself as a true citizen of the country, a dedicated, concerned citizen who does not bow down in front of pressure, does not give in to his aggressors’ demands, and proclaims himself as a “true Journalist.”
His prime time debates are followed and in almost all of these debates, he, in the loudest voice that he can, questions, belittles, and supposedly puts people in their place, irrespective of whether they are people belonging to the opposition parties, police personnel or even questioning and challenging anyone who questions the national interest of the country.
He has carefully curated an image of himself and his news channel as one of the few in the country that fights for the common man’s interest and for the country’s wellbeing, irrespective of the consequences.
On many such occasions, issues and confrontations, we have applauded, sided, and pated the back of this one individual and what his channel represents.
However, this is not the case; if one digs deep and understands what Arnab Goswami of Republic TV(English) has done along with Sudhir Choudhry of Zee Media, we would be appalled.
For the last three years, the two together have cheated Prasar Bharti, the Modi Government, and the people of this country of 52 crores.
Yes, that is the total amount that Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhry and their respective media houses have deceived Door Darshan, the government, and the people of this country; because of which they have had to incur a massive loss to the tune mentioned above.
What and How did Arnab Goswami, Republic TV(English), and Sudhir Choudhry, Zee media do this?
In the last three years, the duo has led Door Darshan, the national exchequer, to bleed with the massive loss of 52 Crores.
What is this illegal activity? How did they do it, and why is it that the government hasn’t questioned the duo?
While the ordinary people pay their taxes to the government, the duo has tricked the system, the government, the entire country and have made a mockery of the common people and the whole nation.
Firstly, let us understand what is this illegal activity all about.
In 2017, Arnab Goswami, along with his wife Samyabrata Ray Goswami and his trusted associates, debut their media channel Republic TV (English).
He wanted the same to be broadcasted on DD Free Dish; DD Free Dish is free – to – air DTH service provided by the Indian government. In 2017, it reached a total viewership and subscribers of 22 million in the country.
The subscribers are mostly from the country’s far-flung areas and primarily constitute the Hindi speaking rural regions.
To be broadcasted on this platform, DD Free Dish holds an E-auction; the broadcasters who want their respective channels to be included on this platform have to bid for a slot and pay a fee for the same, which runs into crores of rupees, for the time as mentioned in the contract.
Hence, once the channel has bid and has won the bid, it can, under the DD Free Dish, book a slot as per the terms and agreement with DD and begin broadcast and gain viewership and subscribers in even the furthest of regions in the country.
DD Free Dish was introduced such that even the people in the far-flung rural areas and the remotest of regions in the country, where a regular DTH service is not available, the people can get to view both news and entertainment channels.
However, for any channel to be part of this platform and be included in the bouquet of channels offered by DD Free Dish, the channels have to pay for the slots that they have bid and paid for.
A total of 54 slots are up for auction, and the price for the same is not low. At the second annual e-auction held in February this year, 13 Free Dish Slots were bought by news channels at an average price of Rs. 10.85 crores per slot.
As per reports, the reserve price for a slot in the News category was Rs. 7 crores, the highest bid was for Rs. 12.25 crore.
Secondly, for the channels to be broadcasted on DD Free Dish, another criterion that needs to be met is that no private channel should have a prior presence on the DTH platform (owned by none other than Sudhir Choudhry of Zee Media)
Thirdly, To stay on the DD Free Dish, the channel will have to operate on an unencrypted format, which in technical terms means that the channel will not have a code, such that they are easily incorporated on the DD Free Dish platform.
To simplify this further, imagine one has a wifi connection. One often puts a lock (password) for the wifi such that unauthorized people can not use the personal wifi.
Similarly, for a channel to come on the DD Free Dish, the channel should not have a lock; it should be unencrypted; any private channel that is already on DTH cannot be unencrypted, and for the channels that are encrypted, they can only be broadcast through DD Free Dish, unless the channel has through the e-auction bought the slot by paying the set fee.
How did Arnab Goswami, Republic TV (English), and Sudhir Chaudhry, Zee Media outdo the system?
The duo outsmarted the system because of a glitch, a technical maneuver because of which they were able to broadcast their respective channels for free on the DD Free Dish.
As it happens, the satellites for both DD Free Dish and DTH are very close together as they orbit the Earth; they are so close to each other that if a channel broadcasts in an unencrypted format on DTH, then the same would also be caught on the DD Free Dish, and this is the technical glitch that Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhry took advantage of.
They broadcasted the channel in an unencrypted format such that the DD Free Dish would also catch the feed. Thus, the channel was broadcasted free of cost and without paying a single penny to DD – to all 22 million subscribers.
How and When did DD Free Dish get to know of this crime?
Ironically, for the longest time, DD Free Dish officials, the I&B (Information & Broadcasting), and the Modi government had no clue of this illegal activity that was happening right under their noses.
The whole game and the illegal activity came to the notice of DD Free Dish officials when Arnab Goswami wanted to highlight 22 million subscribers’ reach.
In his typical – shout – a -lot – style, on Republic TV’s (English) Twitter handle (to do their marketing and for people to know how they could watch the channel) tweeted the same. The tweet got noticed by the DD Free Dish officials.
This led to the opening of a can of worms. The officials could not understand how, without having participated in the E-Auction, Republic Tv was being broadcasted illegally and free on their bandwidth without paying a single rupee.
Republic TV (English) realizes the mistake and takes action.
Once the tweets got noticed, Arnab Goswami realized the big mistake they made by tweeting and immediately deleted it. However, stupidly enough, they had also asked their employees to tweet the same from their respective Twitter accounts. Despite telling their employees to delete the tweets, some of these tweets are still available.
DD Free Dish takes action.
Once DD Free Dish realized what had transpired, they quickly swung into action. They questioned the feed’s authenticity, and hence Arnab Goswami and his Republic TV (English) and Sudhir Choudhry ( Zee network) were caught.
The director-general of DD wrote to the I &B Ministry and strongly condemned the move on the part of Zee Network and Republic TV.
In a letter to the I&B ministry, the director-general mentioned:” the move on the part of the channel is a big threat to DD Free Dish, because it enabled private channels to avoid paying for slots on the state-owned DTH platform and that such channels are available to our subscribers without any payment to Prasar Bharti.”
He further mentioned – “This illegal activity is also diluting the competition in buying of slots through auction; further it is unfair to channels coming on DD Free Dish, that have come through the E – Auctioning route and if this continues then the entire purpose of auctioning will be defeated.”
What does the guideline set by the I&B Ministry say?
The DTH guidelines say that a violation of license conditions can lead to the revocation of the said companies license and a penalty of up to Rs. 50 Crore.
The uplinking guidelines prescribe cancellation of permission to use satellite newsgathering technology in case of violations. Hence, the channel can be shut down.
At the time, the I & B Ministry was headed by Venku Naidu. He took the entire matter very seriously and pushed for the case to be heard.
However, even though Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Choudhry and their respective media houses have committed an illegal activity with full knowledge of the same, despite DD officials and the Modi government knowing of their irregularities and the fact that they have cheated the common man and the entire country of crores of rupees, no action has been taken on both the parties.
Both Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhry (who is also a BJP MP) should apologize to all those who have been taken for a ride; for their misdeeds on prime time on their respective channels and also pay the losses that DD Free Dish has incurred (52 Crores)