Israel’s Media Watch asked Communications Minister Gilad Erdan to reconsider the
choice of television producer and director Ram Landes to head a committee
examining the IBA’s structure and operations – and make viable proposals for its
reconstitution – in a letter sent Monday.
Agreements were reached last
year for the implementation of Broadcasting Authority reforms. Nevertheless,
when Erdan took office – only a few months ago – he put all agreements on hold
and said that he wanted to close down IBA and reopen the public broadcasting
service with a new, streamlined format.
While Israel’s Media Watch – a
long time critic of the Israel Broadcasting Authority – welcomes Erdan’s
intention, it contends that his decision to put Landes at the helm of the
investigating committee is a mistake.
The reason for this is that Landes
represents a conflict of interests. A creator and executive producer of numerous
award-winning programs and series, Landes is also the founding CEO of Koda
Communications which produces state-funded local news programs.
perception, such programs come under the category of public broadcasting, and
therefore Landes, in heading a committee that is probing Israel’s public
broadcasting service, would be faced with a conflict of
Whatever proposals the committee looking into the future of
public broadcasting might make would be bound to impact on Koda Communications
and its role in public broadcasting operations, the IMW letter states.
a media conference in Tel Aviv on Monday, Erdan complained about the
politicization of the IBA.
According to law, the IBA is supposed to be an
independent, apolitical body, but said Erdan, this is not the case, which puts
the IBA in breach of the law. He went on to distinguish between responsibility
for the IBA and responsibility for carrying out the Broadcasting Authority Law.
He clarified that only the latter was part of his purview.
particularly concerned about “wasting” public funds on the IBA, claiming that
since 2006, NIS 6 billion had been squandered on it.
Quoting from one of
many investigative committees published with regard to the IBA, he cited a 2006
report stating that the public does not receive value for the broadcasting
license fee that it pays.
Although skipping over the issue that the levy
is neither for program content nor quality, but for the television receiver, he
nevertheless said he is interested in reducing its cost.
conditions of the presently frozen reforms, the IBA was to receive an additional
NIS 700 million from the Finance Ministry. Erdan and Finance Minister Yair Lapid
have effectively put a freeze on the transfer of funds, and Erdan wants the
10-member committee to complete its investigation into the future of public
broadcasting, and make recommendations by the end of the year. The committee
includes Yair Aloni, a former director general of the IBA, who could also
technically find himself with a conflict of interests.
Even if the
committee agrees with Erdan’s assessment that the only way to heal the ailing
IBA is to close it down and start again from scratch, such a move will require
legislative approval which will take a long time to push through.
meantime, Labor MK Isaac Herzog heads a Knesset lobby that is working to protect
the interests of the IBA and its employees, 700 of whom were to be dismissed in
the course of the gradual introduction of the reforms and have received a
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