Pakistan’s only 24-hour English news channel, Express 24/7, part of the Express Media Group (of which The Express Tribune is a sister organisation) bowed out on Monday night after three years of transmission. CEO Sultan Lakhani in an e-mail to 24/7 staffers said that the decision had been taken as despite the company’s best efforts “we simply have not been able to make Express 24/7 self-sustaining from a financial and commercial standpoint.”
He blamed a dismal economic environment coupled with a lack of advertising support which resulted in dwindling revenues thereby making it financially untenable to continue airing the English language channel. “Unlike other countries where niche channels can survive and even prosper through subscription and where there are multiple distribution platforms such as DTH, in Pakistan niche channels are wholly dependent on advertising. This system works well for mass market channels like our sister channel Express News but does not work effectively for niche channels which cater to a smaller audience,” said Lakhani.
The CEO said that the company would try its best to retain as many employees as possible in other media ventures both in television and print. For those who cannot be accommodated, he said satisfactory severance packages commensurate with length of tenure had been earmarked.
In the preceding 3 years, Express 24/7 carved out a name for itself as a quality broadcaster that provided news and information about Pakistan to audiences around the world and at home, including a distinguished audience of diplomats and decision-makers. “I would like to thank all the staff, past and present, for their hard work in making the channel so well-known for its brand of unbiased and authentic content. It is to their credit that the channel was on-air and successful for long after competing channels gave up,” concluded Lakhani.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2011.