(photo credit: COURTESY OF IBA)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must take immediate action to prevent the demise of the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s English News, Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai wrote Netanyahu Wednesday night.
Netanyahu also holds the Communications portfolio and is therefore the address for the ongoing campaign to try to save the IBA English News from going off the air permanently. Shai, who was close to Netanyahu in the past, said in a speech in the Knesset plenum that he would do everything he could to ensure there would be television news in English in Israel.
Five reporters and editors were pressured to resign from their jobs at the IBA English News, leaving a staff of only two. Instead of daily broadcasts, there is now just one 30-minute show on Thursdays at 4 p.m. Israel time.
Shai wrote Netanyahu that the English News must not only be saved, but also be expanded.
“The ax has fallen on the poor man’s proudest possession [a reference to Samuel 2, Ch. 12]: the broadcasts in English,” Shai wrote Netanyahu. “This is the death knell to broadcasting in English. I don’t know if this is stupidity or narrow-mindedness, but the result is that at a time of security incidents, when the airwaves are dominated by hostile broadcasts, there is no voice coming from Israel.”
Shai was interviewed on the IBA English News last Thursday. Other MKs across the political spectrum have said they would take action.
“Someone has lost his mind,” Shai said on the show. “We are living in a very tough time now. Any broadcast in Arabic or English coming from Israel is extremely important. I am not speaking about propaganda. I am speaking about reporting the news as it is from Israel. I don’t understand. We have spent millions on military and police operations. How much have we spent on getting out our message? Probably nothing.”
IBA English News anchor Arieh O’Sullivan, a former defense correspondent at The Jerusalem Post,
said he welcomes the efforts of Shai and the other MKs.