Employees of the Makor Rishon newspaper held demonstrations on Tuesday outside the Antitrust Authority’s building in Jerusalem, urging Commissioner David Gilo to approve the right-wing paper’s sale to Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom.
The Jerusalem District Court approved the sale of the flagging newspaper and Ma’ariv website NRG to the country’s most-widely circulated daily in late March, but the deal needs the Antitrust Authority’s okay before it can go forward.
Earlier in the week, the paper’s employees said that if the sale did not go through by the weekend, the paper would collapse and its 130 employees would be dismissed.
According to Globes, the Antitrust Authority is split between approving the sale outright and approving it with heavy restrictions. If the restrictions are burdensome enough to scuttle the deal, the authority would reportedly recommend selling Makor Rishon to The Jerusalem Post, which is already buying Ma’ariv.
The Antitrust Authority did not comment on the protests, but Gilo met with several representatives to hear their position.
They argued that they had been promised journalistic independence, and that their journalistic integrity would not be compromised by sale to Israel Hayom and the politically vocal Adelson.
Earlier in the week, the authority vowed that it would make its decisions based on whether the purchase would limit competition in the market, not political pressure. A thorough examination usually took a month and a half, the authority said, but it was doing its utmost to make a decision sooner.
Makor Rishon employees scoffed that more complex cases had been approved more quickly in the past.
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