Tens of thousands of five-star ratings given to Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV mysteriously disappeared over night, pushing the rating on the channel’s official page to a low of 2.1 stars out of 5.0.
It is not clear why the ratings were removed.
Over the last three days, the channel has come under a ‘rating attack’ from many viewers who accused it of peddling propaganda against people who represent certain political ideologies and against states like Kerala.
The channel, which used to be rated at 4.7 stars as of last week, saw its average rating falling to around 2.5 stars after about 60,000 viewers left scathing reviews on its page on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a social media campaign. The rating option was turned off.
However, the company soon restored the rating facility on the page, and over Thursday and Friday, the tide began to turn as suddenly tens of thousands of new ‘five star’ ratings were applied on the page to counterbalance negative ratings seen in the previous days.
The channel got about 40,000 five-star reviews over the two days, which propelled its rating back above the 3.0 star mark.
However, as of Saturday, the most of the five-star reviews and ratings for the channel were removed, while the 1-star reviews were left intact. As a result, as of Saturday morning, there were 128,000 1-star rating, while the number of 5-star reviews fell from around 80,000 to 44,000.
It is not clear why the 5-star ratings were removed and who did it.
The channel was floated with the financial backing of Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Rajya Sabha MP who is also the vice-chairman of ruling National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party in Kerala.
At launch, the channel head, Arnab Goswami, promised that the venture will be “pro-military”.
““There can never be enough nationalism. More the better,” he said in an interaction on social media platform reddit.com.
However, at least some viewers had misgivings about whether it will remain neutral, considering the source of some of its funds and Goswami’s recent move towards positioning himself as very ‘nationalist’ and ‘pro-military’.
The channel competes with others like Times Now, NewsX and India Today, all of which have also in recent times turned more and more patriotic in their coverage of news. CNN-IBN and NDTV 24×7, however, remain largely neutral in their tone in a market where being ‘nationalistic’ is considered an advantage in the TRP game.
Meanwhile, the unprecedented move to discard nearly half of Republic TV’s five-star ratings is likely to raise some concerns.