Two top editors of ET Now, the Times Group-owned business channel, have quit while Arnab Goswami, the editor in chief of Times Now, is expected to get the additional charge of the channel, three persons aware of the development told VCCircle.
ET Now’s executive editor R Sridharan and chief editor – markets and research Shailendra Bhatnagar have resigned, sources said.
The reason for the shakeup is not known. (Update: A Times spokesperson said Sridharan has quit to do a startup of his own and the transition was planned. He is moving to Bengaluru for the same. MK Anand, CEO of Times Global Broadcasting, had recently met up with about 30 senior team members in a townhall where he thanked Sridharan for his contributions to the channel.)
English business news space is currently dominated by CNBC TV18, ET Now and Bloomberg TV.
As per the latest statistics for the week ended May 1, 2015 from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an industry body that conducts TV audience viewership surveys, CNBC TV18 is currently the market leader in household viewership, followed by ET Now in second position and then Bloomberg TV.
However, viewership ratings change according to events and time bands every week.
For Goswami, this would mark an elevation of sorts, as the business channel was working independently till now with its editorial head reporting to CEO of Times Global Broadcasting, the parent company that owns both the channels.
Goswami, who became a household name as the host of the highly opinionated evening show News Hour, has led Times Now to be the consistent number one English general news channel, surpassing rivals NDTV, Headlines Today and CNN-IBN.
The additional charge of the business channel could be seen as expanding Goswami’s role within the group.
One of the sources cited above said Goswami will primarily take care of the ‘look and feel’ of ET Now, while he will not be deeply involved in the daily news production.
Following the exit of Sridharan and Bhatnagar, the channel’s day-to-day operations are likely to be run by current national news editor Sandeep Gurumurthi. According to sources, Gurumurthi is likely to be elevated as managing editor with a greater role in editorial operations, and he will report to Goswami.
Emails sent to Goswami, Sridharan, Bhatnagar and Gurumurthi did not immediately elicit a response. An email sent to MK Anand, CEO, Times Global Broadcasting, too did not elicit a reply while his phone went unanswered.
Sridharan, a former managing editor of Business Today magazine, had taken over as editorial head of ET Now in October 2010, succeeding the then channel head Andy Mukherjee, a former Bloomberg columnist.
Sridharan initially reported to Rahul Joshi, who as editorial director of The Economic Times (ET) was also overseeing ET Now for a few years since it was launched in 2009.
Industry is also abuzz with rumours that former executive editor of CNBC TV 18 Udayan Mukherjee is in the reckoning to take over as the head of ET Now. When contacted by VCCircle, Mukherjee denied saying he is “not joining any channel”.
Mukherjee, who was the most recognised stock markets TV anchor, had quit CNBC TV18 in July 2013. His exit was attributed to ‘professional exhaustion’.
ET Now was launched to challenge the dominance of CNBC TV18 in the business news broadcast space. Initially the channel sought to leverage the reporting heft of sister print publication ET in terms of breaking news. But the editorial integration between ET and the channel did not work as well as it was planned.