(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
The Knesset Economic Affairs Committee under the chairmanship of Labor MK Eitan Cabel on Monday approved a three-month extension period for the operation of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
The last-minute reprieve came a day ahead of the date on which the IBA was due to cease functioning.
Cabel made it clear that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who also holds the Communications portfolio – tried to politicize the IBA and its proposed successor through Ophir Akunis, the Likud minister without portfolio in the Communications Ministry, there would be no chance of establishing an alternative public broadcasting service.
The request for the extension was submitted to the committee by Akunis and was signed by the ministers of Communications and Finance.
In submitting the request, Akunis said that it was the policy of the government to facilitate the opening and not the closing of mouths.
There was no intention to silence or to gag anyone, and all shades of opinion must be given expression in public broadcasting, he said.
There is no coalition or opposition with regard to public broadcasting, he insisted, adding that the target is to have public broadcasting and not to emulate the situation in Greece, where the government closed down public broadcasting.
Netanyahu had no desire to return to a policy in which the public had to pay a compulsory broadcasting license fee, Akunis said, and added that in accordance with a public broadcasting law that was passed a year ago, a new public broadcasting entity must be established as quickly as possible.