Lebanon's media crisis has recently reached Future TV that will be temporarily suspended and its staff released due to financial difficulties as stated by the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday.
"It is with a sad heart that I announce today the decision to suspend the work at Future TV and settle the rights of the workers, for the same financial reasons that led to the closing of Al-Mustaqbal newspaper," Hariri announced in his statement.
He said that the decision was "not easy for him and for the public of the Future movement, nor for the generation of founders, workers, and millions of Lebanese and Arab viewers, who accompanied the station for more than a quarter of a century."
In the statement, Hariri stressed on the importance that all Lebanese and Arab know that the screen will not be turned off, "The station is not taking the decision to stop work in order to become part of the past," he said, announcing that it is "the end of a period in its journey to be able to address the accumulated material burdens."
He also revealed, "It is preparing for a new phase in which it aspires to return in the coming months, in a way that shines on Lebanon and the Arabs, with a media and news format that matches the available resources and reflects the national, economic, social, and developmental concerns of the Lebanese."
The future TV was founded in 1993 by Rafik Hariri, a former Prime Minister of Lebanon who was assassinated by a massive truck bomb in 2005. After his assassination, the political crisis that ensued deeply affected his television network where employees started facing delay in salaries.
Earlier this August, and in an unprecedented move since the station was established in 1993, most of the Future TV employees held a strike for three days after not being paid their wages for months. Programs and news bulletins were stopped from the channel, which has been airing pre-recorded shows and series.
In his last statement, Saad Hariri expressed his appreciation and gratitude for those employees, apologizing to them and their colleagues in Al-Mustaqbal Newspaper, pledging "to follow up with their rights, and wish them all the best in their choices and job opportunities."
Throughout the years, Future TV has produced numerous popular programs, including Aalam El Sabah, which is one of the oldest and most famous daily morning shows in Lebanon, SuperStar (Arabic version of Pop Idol), La Youmal (a comedy/skit show), Miss Elite Top Model, El-Halka El-Ad'aaf (Arabic version of The Weakest Link), and El Fakh (Arabic version of The Trap), among many others.
Its most famous talk show is Sireh w infanthit (Arabic for Open for Discussion), hosted by Zaven Kouyoumdjian. It was then changed to Bala Toul Siree that discusses topics of politics, social affairs, taboo, and lifestyle with its guests in a magazine format, and along with a large share of audience's participation and real-life testimonials.
Lamentably, most of the Lebanese media outlets have been suffering in the past few years from financial difficulties; a status quo that has caused the closure of several institutions and the firing of employees over lack of funding.
We witnessed in the past three years, the cessation of a series of prominent daily newspapers due to funding shortages. This included As-Safir newspaper in 2016, Al-Anwar newspaper in 2018, and the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat newspaper (founded in 1946) that closed its offices in Beirut and stopped printing, settling for its international online version.
In February 2019, Al-Mustaqbal (Future) newspaper discontinued its printed edition after 20 years of operation, switching to an all-digital business format as of February 14.