Employees of Ma’ariv website NRG and religious newspaper Makor Rishon on Sunday called on the Israel Antitrust Authority to speedily approve the acquisition offer made by Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom, saying that failure to do so by week’s end would result in the firing of employees.
“We are in a serious and sad period,” said Makor Rishon editor Uri Elitzur. “If we do not get approval by Thursday night, when the whole deal lies in the hands of the antitrust commissioner, the paper will die and become a corpse.”
At a Sunday meeting, the workers decided to escalate protests against the Authority.
They will hold protests outside the government offices starting on Tuesday, following Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday night and Monday.
The sale of the newspaper and website to Israel Hayom, the most widely-circulated daily paper, was already approved by a court, but the Antitrust Authority could still block the sale due to concern of concentrating too much of the market under one roof.
The Authority is also considering the sale of Ma’ariv, the paper until now associated with the NRG website, to The Jerusalem Post Group.
“We all need to be heard for the good of Israel’s democracy and freedom of expression,” Elitzur said. “To shut our mouths with antitrust claims is outlandish.”
The Antitrust Authority shot back that it would not bow to political pressure, and would make its decision based on a professional, technocratic examination, which generally takes a month-and-a-half.
“The Authority is investing great resources into checking whether the proposal is likely to harm competition and the public,” a spokesman said.
The Authority added that it had taken steps to allow intermediate cash transfers to keep the company afloat, and was making every effort to complete its work by Thursday.