THE IMPENDING closure of CNN Philippines eight years after debuting on Philippine free television does not bode well for the country’s ailing information ecosystem, analysts said, as profitability among news channels in Asia’s oldest democracy remained a challenge.

“Any closure of a news media organization that tries to practice responsible journalism means one less source of information,” Danilo A. Arao, who teaches journalism at the University of the Philippines (UP), said in a Facebook Messenger chat on Sunday.

CNN Philippines, which starting airing on Philippine free TV in March 2015, is set to make a major announcement on Monday amid reports that losses at the Cabangon family’s Nine Media Corp., the network owner and operator, had topped P5 billion.

Nine Media has an airtime deal with state channel Radio Philippines Network (RPN-9), which charges the company a monthly airtime fee of P8.2 million.

Mr. Arao said the closure of another media company — years after ABS-CBN Corp. was forced off air after legislators rejected its franchise renewal — should be “a wake-up call for news media owners to be more mindful of sustaining operations while taking care of its journalists and media workers.”

He cited the evolution of RPN 9 to Solar News, to 9 News, and then to CNN Philippines.

“The latter turned out to be a white elephant in the sense that depending on a global brand turned out to be unsustainable due to the high cost,” he said. “May this be a lesson to all of us that we don’t need to be outward-looking in running a news media organization.”

Nine Media paid license fees to Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific, Inc. for the CNN brand worth P139.3 million in 2022, up from P108.09 million a year earlier, GMA News reported, citing financial statements from 2021 to 2022.

Rachel E. Khan, a journalism professor at UP, said a largely information-only platform that heavily focuses on news and talk shows is not financially viable in a country like the Philippines.

“Sadly, Filipinos are only hungry for news when it has an obvious direct impact on them such as disaster-related news,” she said via Messenger chat. “Moreover, with the growth of online media, audiences can now pick and choose what they want to be informed about.”

She noted that GMA Network, Inc., the largest local TV network with 101 TV stations and 21 radio stations last year, and ABS-CBN “make most of their income in the entertainment industry, not the news industry.”

“Also, when it comes to breaking local news, people still rely on the longer-running shows such as 24 Oras and TV Patrol,” she added.

The closure of CNN Philippines will happen weeks before the ABS-CBN News Channel, a 24/7 pay TV news channel, goes off air on its main platform SkyCable, which will close shop on Feb. 27.

Terrestrial and cable TV viewing is still substantial in the country “despite the presence of streaming services and video-sharing social media platforms,” Mr. Arao said.

Data from Kantar showed that about 93 million people still watch TV, with about 22 million households that own television sets, he noted.

Ms. Khan said the closure of CNN Philippines would not have the same impact as the closure of ABS-CBN since it only has a 24% audience share based on Reuters’ 2023 Institute Digital News Report.

“Its local coverage was largely Metro Manila-based, and it was also airing imported news programs that any interested person could also watch on the CNN International cable channel,” she said. “What saddens me the most is the loss of more jobs in the news industry.”

CNN Philippines has about 300 employees, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Ms. Khan said the creation of a publicly traded media corporation, which Filipinos should be willing to invest in, is needed if the country wants a truly independent source of information.

“That was Mr. Raul Locsin’s formula, which unfortunately ended with his death.”

Mr. Locsin, a 1999 Ramon Magsaysay awardee, founded Business Day, Southeast Asia’s first daily economic newspaper, in 1967. It led to the birth of BusinessWorld in 1987.

Mr. Arao said a substantial decrease in TV news viewership would only happen if the country would have better information technology infrastructure that can reach remote areas.

A survey by Pulse Asia Research, Inc. in September 2021 showed that TV was Filipinos’ top source of news on government affairs and politics with a 91% share.

It was followed by radio at 49%, online platforms at 48% and newspapers at 3%.

“The decreased viewership on ‘old TV’ right now may be felt in more developed urban areas, but that is not the case in rural areas where even the most basic social services are absent,” Mr. Arao said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza