Israeli television viewers will soon be able to receive a basic package of free
digital-quality broadcasts of 18 channels.
The Communications Ministry
together with the Treasury are planning to triple the number of basic
free-to-air channels from five to 18 that consumers can receive via the Idan
Plus decoder in an effort to lower the price level in the multichannel
“The expansion of the Idan Plus services is a
necessity to enable the public to receive a free package of quality channels and
to reduce prices in the multichannel television market,” Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon said Thursday in a joint
In August 2009, Israel launched Digital Terrestrial Television
(DTT) services to receive free-to-air channels via a decoder. The launch enables
viewers to receive free digital-quality broadcasts of five channels: two
channels from the public broadcaster IBA for Channel 1 and Channel 33; two
commercial ones on Channel 2 and Channel 10; and the Knesset Channel. The DTT
decoders can be bought at electrical appliance and computer stores starting at
In the first stage, all national radio channels, Channel 23
(education), Channel 9, Channel 24 (music) and Channel 1 in high-definition
resolution will be added to the five current channels. In the second stage, more
channels will be added, including one in Arabic, a news channel and a heritage
channel. The ministries said the proposal would be presented for approval to the
government on Sunday.
The introduction of free DTT services comes against
the background of the country’s concentrated pay-TV market, which operates as a
duopoly between cable operator HOT and satellite operator Yes. The DTT
converters give viewers access to some Israeli channels in high-definition
broadcast without having to commit to any monthly fees to satellite or cable TV
providers and without being subjected to a subscription period.
developed countries offer broad digital broadcasting services that are free and
open to the public,” the ministries said. “The level of competition in the
multichannel television market in Israel and the level of prices justify an
expansion of free broadcasting channels that are open to the public.”
2008, the Communications Ministry adopted recommendations from the Gronau
Committee, which addressed key issues on competition in the communications
market and concluded that the level of prices in the market were high compared
with other countries.
The average price for a package in Israel is NIS
196 a month with a commitment period of two years.
“The duopoly created
in the local TV market does not offer the consumer the array of possibilities
the consumer has in other countries around the world,” the Gronau Committee said
in its report. “The lack of competitors in the multi-television market is
reflected in the price the consumer is paying for cable TV and satellite
“In general, the Israeli consumer does not have the freedom to
choose the number of channels in a TV package, and more specifically, there is
no possibility to choose a basic package of 10 to 20 channels at a lower price.
Similarly, the consumer cannot purchase the decoder separately to reduce monthly
Since the situation has not changed since 2008, it was
necessary to advance the proposal so that the public will be able to receive a
free basic-channel package via DTT converters, as is customary in most developed
countries around the world, the ministries said.