|Photo by: The Tzipi Livni Party|
PM calls Knesset meeting to save Channel 10
By LAHAV HARKOV AND NADAV SHEMER
Channel 10 petitions High Court to save it from closure; Center-Left parties blame PM, say shutting down channel is bad for democracy.
The Knesset will hold an emergency session to ensure that Channel 10 continues
broadcasting, following an agreement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Sunday.
The Knesset will discuss the
agreement between Prime Minister’s Office director-general Harel Locker and the
channel’s management, as well as the issue of continued funding for local news
for six months and an extension of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s
Before the Knesset meeting was called, Channel 10 petitioned the
High Court of Justice to intervene and save it on Sunday afternoon, less than a
day after the cash-strapped television network announced that it would implement
the dismissal of around 500 employees on Monday.
[Binyamin Neyanyahu] is foiling implementation of an agreement that would allow
Channel 10 to continue operating,” attorneys Yoram Bonen and Dor Lahav wrote to
the court. They accused the PM of instructing ministers – “without giving any
explanation” – not to discuss the deal at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting. One
of the reasons given by the PMO for not working to prevent Channel 10’s closure
was a previous agreement between Rivlin and Netanyahu not to pass more bills
before the election in order to prevent populist legislation.
ago, a team headed by Locker agreed to a proposal in which the state would
extend Channel 10’s license by two years and loan it NIS 65 million, enabling
the channel to repay its debts.
The network is expected to close at the
end of the year if the cabinet does not approve the deal
Channel 10’s board confirmed Saturday night that it would
dismiss its employees in advance of final closure, but it delayed dispatch of
the dismissal notices by 48 hours following a request from Locker.
board convened after it became apparent that the government would not approve
the plan to save the network.
Indeed, the matter was not discussed at the
weekly cabinet meeting.
“In my many discussions with the Communications
Ministry, there were more lies and false promises than there were ministers. At
no stage was there any attempt to deal with this industry’s
Instead of encouragement, every effort was made to destroy the
industry – and it is almost certain that they have managed to destroy it,” Yossi
Meiman, Channel 10’s controlling shareholder, said at the board
Center and left-wing parties blamed Netanyahu for the channel’s
troubles, calling it dangerous for democracy.
The Tzipi Livni Party held
a protest outside Channel 10 headquarters in Givatayim on Sunday. Camp Sucker
leader Boaz Nol, who has an unrealistic slot on Livni’s list, demonstrated
alongside several young activists with bandages over their mouths, symbolizing
Netanyahu’s silencing of the press.
“Someone is trying to prevent us from
having our voices heard,” Livni said.
“Channel 10 has to decide whether
to shut down or listen to the prime minister’s whims and demands. This
government is trying to silence us all, so we don’t talk about what is really
important – changing national priorities, changing the system of government and
bringing peace – but we will keep talking, with a big mouth.”
leader Shelly Yacimovich accused Netanyahu of working personally to close
Channel 10, because it does not serve his interests ahead of the
“The prime minister wants to bring the channel to its knees so
it can beg for its life until Election Day, while imposing a reign of fear and
threats that will require the reporters to cover him in a positive light,”
“This is anti-democratic behavior that will cause
hundreds of families to lose their income, something that, as everyone knows,
does not interest Netanyahu.”
Kadima MK Nino Abesadze, who is a Labor
candidate in the upcoming election, called for politicians who used to be
journalists – such as herself, Yacimovich, and many others – to fight for their
former colleagues at Channel 10 so that 500 workers are not fired.
wholeheartedly oppose the government’s behavior when it comes to Channel 10,
which must continue existing,” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said. “This harms
democracy, freedom of expression, the media market and Israeli
Lapid added that electing Yesh Atid will bring about a
change that will keep Channel 10 open.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said
the “Biberman” government – an amalgam of “Bibi,” Netanyahu’s nickname, and
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman – is working against democracy and any source
of criticism, including the media, the courts, academia and cultural and social
“The prime minister’s use of the election in order to
prevent a bill saving the channel from passing is false and cynical,” Horowitz
“As someone who had the honor of working for the channel, I feel
the pain of the hundreds of dedicated and professional workers that will be
fired for no apparent reason.”