The Jerusalem Journalists Association is calling on the public to sign a petition against the projected closure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

A bill sponsored by Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Finance Minister Yair Lapid is aimed at completely closing down and disbanding the existing public broadcasting network and replacing it with what they say will be a more streamlined, cost-efficient entity.

A special Knesset Committee set up by Erdan to examine the proposed bill is due to begin voting on it on Monday.

The text of the petition warns that closure means the end of Channel 1, Channel 33 the Arabic channel, IBA News in English, Radio stations Reshet Aleph, Reshet Bet, Reshet Gimmel, Reshet Dalet which broadcasts in Arabic, REKA which broadcasts in a number of foreign languages primarily for the benefit of immigrants and diplomats, the Voice of Music, 88 FM, Reshet Moreshet which is the Jewish heritage station; and broadcasts overseas in various languages.

Closure means the dismissal of some 2000 IBA employees – in some cases both husband and wife in a single family will lose their jobs – and an immediate conclusion to a 78-year history of public broadcasting in this country, according to the Association.

The petition describes public broadcasting as one of the watchdogs of democracy, and asserts that channels of communication must remain open in a democratic state. Public broadcasting belongs to the people, is for their benefit, and no government has the right to override that policy, the petition states.

As part of the campaign to prevent the closure, IBA staff have recruited prominent figures opposed to the closure to voice their opinions. These testimonials from politicians, academics, well known personalities in the legal professions, veteran broadcasters, etc are broadcast several times each day, The petition can be found at http:// www.atzuma.co.il/shidurtsiburi

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