Channel 10 may shut down after Knesset rejects debt payment

MK Shama-Hacohen: Station isn’t watchdog of democracy - it's a poodle; Kadima says move is personal vendetta by PM.

December 12, 2011 23:43
2 minute read.
Channel 10 logo

Channel 10 logo_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Knesset Economics Committee rejected on Monday morning a proposal by MK Nino Abesadze (Kadima) to delay Channel 10 debt payments, meaning that the station is likely to shut down next month.

The television station owes NIS 60 million in royalties and franchise fees, which the committee decided the government should not help pay.

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Channel 10 request to delay debt repayment rejected

As such, the channel is set to close in late January unless an investor or shareholders Ron Lauder and Arnon Milchin pay its debt.

A vote on the debt payments had already been delayed once before, last month, to give Channel 10 more time to find a compromise on the matter.

Abesadze’s initiative was rejected after eight coalition members from Likud, Israel Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism and Shas voted against it, while five MKs from Kadima and Labor voted in favor of postponing Channel 10’s debt payments.

“You’ll blame the shareholders and we blame you, but in the end, Channel 10 will close,” the station’s CEO Yossi Varshavsky said before the vote.

He added that should the committee vote against delaying the payment, he will have to recommend to Channel 10’s shareholders to stop broadcasts.

MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen expressed concern about closing Channel 10 and creating a monopoly on television news, however he said there was no choice other than to reject another delay in payments.

At the same time, the Economics Committee chairman pointed out that “Channel 10, as a financially weak company that will require government support, cannot be the watchdog of democracy. At best, it would be a poodle.”

Kadima accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of ordering Channel 10’s closure for “blatant” personal and political reasons, and said that he is sending families to live in the streets because hundreds of people will lose their jobs.

Labor Party chairwoman MK Shelly Yacimovich said that the coalition’s determination in today’s vote to close Channel 10 demonstrated that it was not driven by impartial motives, and that the move was a blatant attempt to get rid of a TV station that did not kowtow to the regime.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suing Channel 10 and two of its reporters, Raviv Druker and Mickey Rosenthal, for libel, following a broadcast earlier this year of allegations that Netanyahu billed two organizations for flights the couple took in 2006.

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