Knesset approves amendment to Public Broadcasting Law

New public broadcaster to start operations in 2017.

August 5, 2016 03:03
2 minute read.
Israel Broadcasting Authority

THE ISRAEL Broadcasting Authority’s building, located in Jerusalem.. (photo credit: SARAH LEVI)

In the course of the final marathon session of the Knesset plenum prior to the summer recess, an amendment to the Public Broadcasting Law proposed by Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel passed its second and third (final) readings.

This was the fifth time that the law had been amended.

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Forty-one MKs voted in favor, three against and six abstained.

As it stands now, the date for the launch of Kan – as the new public broadcasting service is called – will be April 30, 2017 with an option for the communications minister and the finance minister to bring the launch date forward to January 1, 2017, providing that Kan will be in a position to broadcast from Jerusalem on that date.

In addition, the majority of Kan employees will work out of Jerusalem from July 1, 2018, with the exception of those employed in branch locations outside Jerusalem. The fine which the finance minister will be entitled to impose for every month of delay in operating from Jerusalem will be NIS 2 million in the first month, increasing by a further NIS 2m. every following month to a ceiling of NIS 10 million per month.

It was also determined that Kan would regularly report every two months on its progress to the Knesset Economics Committee.

Meanwhile, coalition chairman Likud MK David Bitan is going ahead with his intention to present a bill aimed at revoking the current Public Broadcasting Law and instead implementing necessary reforms to the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Bitan argues that as many of the IBA employees have already left and more intend leaving over the few months left before Kan becomes operational, the cost factor of running the IBA will be considerably reduced.

However, Bitan will not be able to present his bill until October when the Knesset reconvenes.

Yesh Atid MK Yael German noted that Kan was supposed to have commenced broadcasting on October 1, 2016, and should have been ready.

Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai, who is a member of the Knesset Jerusalem Lobby and a former chairman of the IBA, said that an apology is due to the many people who worked at the IBA who did their jobs faithfully and with a sense of mission. They are the ones who are now paying a heavy price for the corruption that permeated the IBA, he said. He hoped that those who were remaining under the aegis of Kan, would infuse a spirit of integrity and confidence into the new enterprise.

Meretz MK Ilan Gilon, who has consistently opposed any replacement for the IBA, did apologize publicly not only to broadcasters whose faces are seen on screen or whose voices are heard on radio, but also to make-up artists, cameramen, and others who will not be transferring to Kan, and to Kan employees who have to wait longer than anticipated to begin working properly.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who as communications minister set the ball rolling for the revolution in public broadcasting, was extremely upset by recent developments, especially any attempt to turn the clock back, and said that he would continue to devote his efforts toward ensuring that the new public broadcasting entity would go to air as soon as possible.

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