nachman shai 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
At least two members of Knesset have come out against an alleged attempt by
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to merge Israel Educational Television (IETV)
with the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Following a report in Haaretz on
Wednesday, Kadima MK Nahman Shai – a former IBA chairman, Army Radio chief and
IDF Spokesman – spoke out strongly against such a move, stating that the prime
minister was initiating yet another measure to silence the media and deflate the
freedom of the press.
Israel Beiteinu MK Alex Miller, who chairs the
Knesset Education Committee, also voiced strenuous objection to stripping IETV
of its independence and merging it with the IBA. He announced that he would
convene an emergency meeting on the subject, adding that there was certainly no
need to create yet another crisis while the IBA was in the throes of
Meanwhile Wednesday, Israel Radio’s Yaron Dekel interviewed
Yaffa Vigodsky, who recently stepped down after eight years at the helm of IETV,
and asked her whether, in an era when students could easily access information
on the Internet, there was still a valid reason for continuing with Educational
Television or keeping it independent of the Israel Broadcasting
Vigodsky retorted that the question could well be put the
other way around: whether there was any valid purpose in maintaining Channel 1,
whose ratings were considerably lower than those of the commercial
She acknowledged that eventually the day for a merger would
come, “but it isn’t here yet.” Until the IBA sorts out its own extensive
problems and begins implementing reforms, she said, a merger is
As for the Internet taking over from Educational Television,
she argued that there was a big difference between a classroom or a family
watching and learning from a television screen, and an individual watching a
Dekel responded that programs such as Erev Hadash (A New
Evening), Tik Tikshoret (Media File) and Hakol Anashim (It’s All People) were
hardly educational. Vigodsky disagreed, noting that news programs on other
channels were basically bulletins, while the programs on IETV featured indepth
discussions that were invaluable to communications students.
IETV as an essential component of public broadcasting and asserted that it was
vital in any democratic country to support public broadcasting to the
Educational Television, which was the country’s pioneer TV channel,
has been in danger of extinction on more than one occasion. Established in 1965
as a joint project of the Education Ministry and the Rothschild Foundation, it
launched its first broadcast in March 1966. Following an introductory address by
Lord Jacob Rothschild, the station relayed lessons in biology, math and English
to 32 schools that had a total of 60 television sets. In subsequent years, it
also had quiz shows and culture programs, and even taught Talmud.
not until 1968 that Channel 1, then known as Israel Television, began
broadcasting from a channel shared with IETV. After the introduction of two
commercial television stations, ITV changed its name to Channel 1.
addition to Channel 1, the IBA also broadcasts from Channel 33, and IETV
broadcasts from Channel 23, although some of its programs can also be seen on
Channels 1 and 2.
Over the years, the Finance Ministry has made several
attempts to close down Educational Television, which currently operates on an
annual budget of NIS 80 million. However, opposition from many quarters,
including the Knesset, has enabled the channel to remain an autonomous body
within the Education Ministry, with the IETV director-general sitting in on
meetings of the ministry’s directorate.
Following Vigodsky’s departure,
Eldad Koblentz, who has held executive positions at the Galgalatz radio station
and Channel 2, was selected as her successor. However, the Prime Minister’s
Office has yet to approve his appointment.