THE Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), which has been practically the official organ of the Yellow Cult since 1986, is falling on very hard times. It suffered a loss after tax of P320 million in 2017, from its profit of P20 million in the previous year, according to its management in its stockholders meeting on June 8, 2018.
Sources in the company claimed that the newspaper’s finances hemorrhaged profusely last year to reach P400 million — hidden partly, however, by the P140 million sale of its property.
What fudged PDI’s bottom line for 2018 though was it owners’ move to hollow out the firm: they sold in November 2018 its main asset, its 2,000-square-meter (sqm) Makati property, including the building. That leaves such things as its brand name, its reporters, and mostly anti-Duterte columnist as its assets —which, however, many would even consider as negative assets.
In response to its financial crisis, the newspaper’s President Alexandra Prieto told the board members at its meeting on Nov. 21, 2018 that PDI would have to “fully migrate to digital mode” in four years and end its print edition.
The sale of the Makati property, where its offices and press sit, for P140 million was intended to avoid the red in its bottom line, and, according to Prieto, to raise funds for “new revenue-creating” projects.
Both of these two management responses to the newspaper’s plight are very risky. The newspaper’s digital edition is totally owned by another company, Inquirer Interactive. Its plan to cease its print edition — which employs the personnel that produces the internet-edition’s content — raises serious questions on these employees’ future. Any Inquirer Interactive revenues would go to its owners, not to PDI as corporation, which is the entity that pays the employees who produce the news content.