After nearly a decade in the Philippines local broadcast industry, CNN Philippines has formally announced its last day of operations, slated for January 31, 2024. This decision comes after nearly a decade of mounting net losses exceeding PHP 5 billion ($88.5 million).
Benjamin Ramos, president of Nine Media Corporation - co-owner and operator of CNN Philippines - shared the heartbreaking news during the general meeting on Monday, stating, "It is with a very heavy heart that we share the difficult news that Nine Media Corp.'s news production will stop its operations due to serious financial losses, made even worse by the pandemic."
Radio Philippines Network (RPN) served as the primary content provider for CNN Philippines. However, with the shutdown, RPN 9's free TV frequency will revert to domestic government control.
The CNN Philippines shutdown: what happened?
Launched in March 2015, CNN Philippines had been a fixture in Philippine media for nine years. However, the decision to shut down operations stemmed from the channel's efforts to compete with local media giants on free television and years of mounting financial losses, which had exceeded PHP 5 billion.
The financial struggles were further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to records from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nine Media posted a net loss of PHP 239.72 million in 2022, up from PHP 231.39 million in 2021. The company's capital deficiency stood at PHP 455.2 million and PHP 226.2 million as of those dates.
Furthermore, it's worth noting that the brand licensing agreement for CNN Philippines was set to expire by the end of 2024. CNN Philippines was the fifth local franchisee of CNN in Asia, following similar ventures in Indonesia, Turkey, Arabic-speaking countries, and India.
This decision has direct implications for around 300 employees who will be impacted by the shutdown. In response, Nine Media management has expressed its commitment to providing a fair severance package to all affected employees.
Media landscape challenges and concerns
CNN Philippines has firmly established itself as one of the nation's most trusted media outlets, consistently delivering reliable news coverage to its audience. However, as per the findings from the 2023 Digital News Report by Reuters Institute, the media landscape in the Philippines remains notably challenging.
The report underscores the ongoing concerns related to media independence and censorship in the Philippines. Press freedom has been a contentious issue in recent years, and there have been instances of journalists facing harassment and legal threats. These challenges have created a climate where media outlets must carefully navigate the delicate balance between reporting the truth and potential repercussions.
Considering this already challenging media landscape, the closure of CNN Philippines may also raise questions about the future of quality journalism in the country and the role of traditional media outlets in shaping public discourse.
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