Shrinking news space: CNN Philippines shuts down due to financial losses

CNN PHILIPPINES officially announced on Jan. 29 that it was shutting down operations on all platforms following several years of financial losses. It made the announcement on its channel through a broadcast advisory, followed by an official statement on social media. Operated by Nine Media Corp., the network will cease broadcasting effective Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, after almost nine years of operation. 

CNN Philippines aired its last episode of New Day on Monday morning, Jan. 29, but it did not air its daily 9 AM news program The Source. “If you look up and find cloudy skies, well, rest assured that the sun will rise again, bringing a fresh beginning for everyone, bringing a new day,” host Paolo Abrera said in New Day. “Until next time. Thank you for watching CNN Philippines.” 

“Turning the final page of the CNN Philippines newsroom’s story. We are forever grateful for the stories we’ve shared, the audience we’ve served, and to our dedicated team for their commitment to uphold the values of truth, accuracy, fairness, and accountability. Thank you for the privilege to tell the story of the Filipino,” CNN Philippines’ statement on social media read, followed by its tagline “News You Can Trust.”

The network held a general assembly on Monday where CNN Philippines’ president Benjie Ramos confirmed the shutdown to employees. Around 300 employees will receive their separation pay and benefits. Employees took photos inside their newsroom and with each other as they bid farewell. 

Tributes from other journalists and netizens filled social media with gratitude and appreciation.

The closure was first reported by Media Newser Philippines on Jan. 25, citing anonymous sources. This was followed by reports in other news outlets in which the owners confirmed the shutdown. On Jan. 26, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, in a statement, called on the networks’ management to “not let media workers be last to know” about the closure. “More than passion and dedication to the profession, media workers need clear lines of communication with newsroom leaders as well as a say in matters that affect their careers and their daily lives,” the group said.

ABS-CBN News, GMA Integrated News, and Rappler reported that CNN Philippines incurred a loss of PHP239.7 million in 2022 and PHP231.4 million in 2021.

CNN Philippines has been using the RPN-9 frequency since its launch in 2015. The frequency will now revert to government control.

“My reaction is one of terrible dismay because it lessens the news space that we need especially as we are facing 2024, as we have been facing in recent years, a real need for citizens to know what is going on. Losing CNN (Philippines) is a little bit more darkness in terms of…how are we going to proceed? Where is journalism going to go if we’re in a small part of public exchange?” CMFR’s executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus told ABS-CBN News.

CMFR noted in its State of Press Freedom in the Philippines 2023 report that CNN Philippines was an exception as a news channel because it used most of its airtime for news.

De Jesus added that CNN Philippines’ shutdown was a reflection of financial challenges that many newsrooms faced around the world. She said other newsrooms in the country should strengthen collaboration amid changing audience behavior and as traditional business models face even more challenges.

In 2023, CMFR cheered CNN Philippines for its reports that provided background on issues like education, the transport crisis, and poor water supply. During the 2022 polls, the channel did well to highlight marginalized sectors and voter education. The network also made headlines when, in a televised debate in that same election, it left onstage the empty podiums for candidates who failed to show up.