Noted television news anchor Arnab Goswami has decided to change the name of his upcoming channel from ‘Republic’ to ‘Republic TV’. Legal experts believe that not much should be made out of this as long as the channel does not portray itself to be the ‘official medium’ of the Indian government.
Goswami, as managing director and editor-in-chief of ARG Outlier Media, sent a letter to the under-secretary of the ministry of information and broadcasting on January 28, stating that the name of his news channel was being changed. In the letter, he mentioned that he was also submitting a “self certified copy of the acknowledgement slip evidencing the trademark application filed with the Trade Marks Registry in respect of ‘Republic TV’; a self certified coloured copy of the logo of ‘Republic TV’ and fresh affidavits in Form 1A and 1B for uplinking and downlinking applications in terms of the policy guidelines for uplinking and downlinking of television channels from India.”
Stating that the affidavits now reflect Republic TV as the name of the channel, Goswami urged that all reference to Republic in his applications be construed as references to Republic TV henceforth.
Goswami was forced to change the name of his channel after senior BJP leader and MP Subramanian Swamy raised the issue, complaining against the use of the word ‘republic’ and even wrote a letter on January 13 to the information and broadcasting ministry contending that this was “contrary to law” and amounted to “direct breach” of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.
Swamy had told a news agency that he would move court if the government did not take action. In the letter, which Swamy also posted on his twitter account, he mentioned, “It may be noticed that certain names and emblems are prohibited from being used under [the] Act for professional and commercial purposes. As per the schedule, accompanying the statute, under item 6, there is express prohibition from using the phrase ‘republic’.”
Prior to this Goswami, who had resigned from Times Now to launch his own channel, had given specific reasons as to why he wanted to name his channel Republic. Speaking at a function of a Hindi national daily at Jaipur, he had said, “There is a reason why we have named our venture ‘Republic’. It means ‘for the people’… undiluted and direct to the hearts of our people. If we are true, I know you will not let down my faith in you.”
Talking about the change effected by Goswami, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said the issue does not merit the controversy it has. “A few years ago there was a frozen meats outlet which opened by the name of Republic of Chicken. Then we have a DGIR Botanical Garden of Indian Republic in Noida. So such names do not make for such weighty objection. In Pakistan you have a paper called The Nation. So I honestly do not think it is such a big issue.”
However, he said, Swamy had a point and the Emblems and Names Act should not be done away with. “It should only be used more selectively.”
Pointing out that in India, “we also have India TV” and several ‘national’ colleges, he said, the problem arises if by acquiring a name, an organisation is perceived as an official or government medium.