Ronald Lauder and Michal Grayevsky.
(photo credit: SHLOMO COHEN)
Channel 10 employees were presented with some bad news on Sunday, when a huge cutback agreement between the workers and management was unveiled during a staff meeting at the television station’s offices in Givatayim.
Under the plan, several dozen of the financially strapped commercial channel’s almost 400 workers will be laid off while others will have their salaries cut between 20 and 50 percent.
The employees expressed anger that previous commitments made by their former boss, Ronald S. Lauder, and his representatives in Israel had not been honored.
“It is all in the protocols,” said one employee. “On June 2013, the board of directors informed the management that the channel would have an unprecedented two-year budget, including an investment of NIS 110 million!” Union chairman Matan Hodorov pointed an accusatory finger at Lauder’s representatives in Israel.
“The picture reflected in the documents is disturbing,” he said. “The documents themselves pose big questions regarding the manner in which Lauder’s representatives conducted themselves on the board in 2013.”
Channel 10 CEO Yossi Warshavsky said: “It is indeed unusual that last year in September and October the shareholder stood up and made a public promise, and then just one month later he announced that he was completely deserting the channel.”
There was no immediate response from Lauder or his representatives in Israel.
Lauder, an American billionaire who also serves as president of the World Jewish Congress, withdrew as the primary shareholder in Channel 10 last year, leaving the reins in the hands of Israeli businessman Yossi Maiman.
Under a deal reached at the end of last year, Lauder transferred 5% of his shares to Maiman, giving him a controlling interest of 51%, and invested an additional $10m.
into the station to help cover its debts. Because under regulatory restrictions a shareholder cannot hold more than 51%, the other 25% of Lauder’s shares are being held in trust by Maiman.
When announcing his decision to open Channel 10’s state-of-the-art broadcasting studio in his Jerusalem Capital Studios building last year, Lauder said he hoped it would provide “many new jobs.” When launching the new studio, Lauder’s representatives spoke of “a longterm investment plan for another 15 years.”
A source at Channel 10 said despite the cuts, the good news is that the commercial station, which has extensively covered Operation Protective Edge and features many popular programs and presenters, would continue to operate as normal.