Employees of the Israel Broadcasting Authority have planned to hold a demonstration outside the Finance Ministry on Monday, between 10 a.m. and noon, as part of their struggle to prevent the closure of the IBA.
The bill calling for the closure, which was submitted by Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, passed its preliminary vote last week.
If it proceeds through the regular process of legislation, the IBA will be dismantled within less than a year, and about 2,000 people would be dismissed.
The demonstration is timed to coincide with a meeting that Erdan is scheduled to conduct in the capital with Jerusalem Journalists Association chairman Hika Ginosar and Israel Federation of Labor Unions chairman Avi Nissankoren.
It is possible that broadcasts may be suspended during the period of the demonstration, but this depends on last minute decisions by IBA technicians.
With Erdan putting unrelenting pressure on law makers to push the bill through to its conclusion, there has been far greater cooperation between the journalists’ unions and the Federation of Labor Unions (Histadrut) than in the past.
The journalists’ unions in Israel function independently of the Histadrut.
Over the past week, IBA technicians have imposed sanctions on broadcasts, and have not permitted telephone interviews or reports.
This has hampered news anchors from receiving direct reports from IBA representatives abroad, while some local reporters who were accustomed to phoning in their reports, have had to come into the studios in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa to be heard.
A veteran IBA employee, who will be among the demonstrators, said that when Erdan ceded the Home Front Defense Ministry, its employees were given jobs in other government offices.
No such guarantee has been given to IBA employees.
If the government wants to privatize the IBA, he said, “let it at least be honest, and not pretend to be opening another state-owned enterprise that will supposedly be more efficient with a much smaller staff load.”
Another IBA staff member has complained that Erdan has not even begun to talk about conditions for laying off staff, some of which have worked for 40 years or more.
Erdan is also making things difficult for Channels 2 and 10 and franchises Reshet and Keshet with production demands.
Channel 10’s financial struggles, coupled with low ratings, may force its closure at the end of this year when its broadcasting license expires. According to reports in the Hebrew media, Erdan wants to separate Reshet and Keshet in order to assure commercial television remains competitive.
However, this move concerns some who believe that by exerting pressure on Reshet and Keshet, whose production costs would more than double if each broadcast seven days a week, Erdan is practically assuring Channel 10 will shut down.