x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

No plans to close, says City 7 boss

City 7, the English-language television station, is planning cutbacks but will not close down, its owner said..

City 7, the English-language television station, is planning cutbacks but will not close down, its owner said yesterday. Mohi-Din BinHendi said the station was facing financial pressure due to the global economic downturn but that rumours among the 120-strong staff that it was unable to pay its employees and might have to close down were untrue. "We are not closing down, we are cutting costs and looking at all of our options," he said. "As a result of the financial situation around the world we have to cut costs. Because of what we are facing in the financial world there now needs to be financial discipline. We are trying to put this into place and there is nothing wrong with that." Mr BinHendi acknowledged wages were late, but said the situation "will be taken care of by the end of the weekend". A source at City 7 who did not want to be named said some employees confronted managers this week after they were not paid as usual on the 10th of the month. The managers are said to have admitted they had not been paid either, sparking concerns the station was in financial trouble and would be shut down. "There are approximately 120 full-time members of staff at the office, some with families and children, others with loans and others who live on a month-by-month basis, and who are all waiting to be paid," the source said. "There has not been any real form of communication from head office with the staff on the matter." Ron Kabadia, the station's chief operating officer, said on Wednesday the station would remain open until further notice. "Staff came in today and they will be coming in" on Thursday, said Mr Kabadia, who was brought in a year ago to run the station. "We are taking it day-by-day, and it is an ongoing process... the final decision is taken by Mr BinHendi. It is a privilege to produce news for a private station here and we do so responsibly." Employees said Mr Kabadia had made the station more profitable, and said he was communicating with them frequently about the situation. "Ron Kabadia has communicated with us constantly and has been very transparent about it," said the source. Mr BinHendi bought the television station three years ago with the aim of creating an English news channel that would appeal to both expatriates and Emiratis. Over the past year it has expanded its line-up to include not only news, but also children's, cooking, auto and sport programmes. Its programmes include In Gear, Inside Business and The Kids Club. nsamaha@thenational.ae