IBA EMPLOYEES protest outside the Knesset yesterday. The sign reads, ‘Democracy=Public Broadcasting’.
(photo credit: IBA)
Despite frequent announcements by coalition chairman David Bitan of his intent to overturn legislation to dismantle and replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority, former communications minister Gilad Erdan, who spearheaded the IBA’s demise, is convinced that his own plan will prevail.
In an interview on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet on Tuesday, Erdan said he was not aware that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who also serves as communications minister – had changed his mind about a new public broadcasting service.
Erdan said that he would do all in his power to ensure that KAN, the new public broadcasting service, would go on air as scheduled. It was illogical, he said, to cancel at the last moment when so much had already been invested in the establishment of the new service.
Bitan announced before the Knesset went into recess that he would work towards the cancellation of the legislation that spells destruction for the IBA.
He pointed out that the IBA now has far fewer staff than a year ago, thereby making it much easier to implement reforms that were officially agreed upon prior to Erdan’s appointment as communications minister.
Bitan has considerable support on this issue from Opposition MKs.
Unlike the legislation governing the IBA, the corporation that is the umbrella body for KAN has no provision for foreign language broadcasts, which means that English, French, Amharic and Russian speakers will have to turn to other sources for foreign language radio and television.
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai who sides with Bitan on the public broadcasting issue, says that if Bitan’s efforts fail, he will work to allow I24 to broadcast from Israel. Currently, Israeli viewers can only access I24 online, not through radio or television.
The disappearance of programs such as IBA News are of great concern to English language speakers whose Hebrew is insufficient to follow Hebrew language news broadcasts.