After two months of deliberations, the Second Authority for Television and Radio
has ruled that a Channel 10 apology in September to American Jewish businessman
Sheldon Adelson was “appropriate.”
In an investigative report in January,
Channel 10 alleged that Adelson, the owner of the freebie high-quality tabloid,
Israel Hayom, had acquired a casino license in Las Vegas inappropriately through
political connections. The TV channel later issued a public apology to Adelson
for airing incorrect details about his business dealings.
In the apology,
the station stated that Adelson had, in fact, been granted the license in Las
Vegas legally and without using personal connections.
In September, the
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Journalists Associations jointly appealed to the Israel
Press Council, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Dalia Dorner, to convene an
urgent meeting to discuss the resignations of Channel 10 News director Reudor
Benziman and Ruti Yovel, the editor of the “This Week” program, who quit
following the decision by Channel 10 to apologize to Adelson.
program’s presenter, Guy Zohar, also tendered a dramatic on-air resignation from
An angry Adelson, whose reputation had been sullied, had
threatened to go to court, at which point the matter became a complicated legal
issue. It also became an extremely controversial topic widely debated in the
Many journalists sided with Benziman and Yoval, but there
were some who, in the interests of integrity, argued that if Adelson had been
wronged, he deserved an apology.
Adelson, whose wife Miriam was born in
Israel, is one of the wealthiest people in the US and a strong supporter of
In their appeal to Dorner, the executive committees of two
journalists’ associations argued that for many years journalists have waged a
battle against interference in editorial content by politicians and
In recent years, the appeal continued, such pressures
from major players in the business community have intensified.
due respect to investors in Israeli media, who have enabled greater competition,
there are red lines in the relationship between investors and editorial staff
that should not be crossed, according to the appeal.
For all that, the
15-member Second Authority for Television and Radio that regulates commercial
broadcasts in Israel – including the parameters of freedom of expression –
decided last Thursday after investigating the situation that, although there
were some flaws in the manner in which the whole issue of the apology had been
conducted, the decision to apologize had been correct and that there was no
evidence – despite reports to the contrary – of intervention by the Channel 10
However, the financially ailing Channel 10 remains in
danger of closing down.
A front-page story in Haaretz on Monday quoted
unnamed senior sources at Channel 10 as claiming that forces within the Prime
Minister’s Office, unhappy with the investigative findings of political reporter
Raviv Druker, were working toward having him fired.
A hot denial was
given to Haaretz by the Prime Minister’s Office.
According to the report,
two senior members of Channel 10 received intimations from political figures in
the Likud suggesting that the Knesset Finance Committee, to which Channel 10 has
appealed for leniency with regard to its debt problem, would be inclined to be
more helpful if Druker were to be given his marching orders.
nod from the Knesset Finance Committee, Channel 10 is in danger of folding,
which could cause hundreds of people to lose their jobs.
It is doubtful
that this is what Adelson wanted to achieve when he insisted on an apology, but
there is equally no doubt that Druker and other Channel 10 reporters and anchors
have caused no small measure of discomfort to several public figures, including
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister and his wife Sara
have both been presented in a negative light by Druker.
It has been
reported extensively that Adelson created Israel Hayom, which employs some of
Israel’s most respected journalists, to support Netanyahu and his
Knesset Finance Committee chairman Carmel Shama- Hacohen
(Likud), in an interview with Israel Radio’s Yaron Deckel on Monday, denied the
content of the Haaretz report and said that he was not aware of any
It was true, he said, that the majority of the committee
members were indisposed to helping Channel 10, which is millions of dollars in
arrears, but this had nothing to do with Druker or the prime minister.
would not be such a tragic thing, he observed, if there was one television
channel less, but made it clear that he hoped a solution of some kind would be
found to save Channel 10.
Meanwhile, journalists at the Israel
Broadcasting Authority – with the support of the Jerusalem Journalists
Association – have decided to impose a number of sanctions to protest the
decision by management to fire 28 TV and radio employees, among them reporter
Carmit Rubin, who worked almost around the clock reporting the doctors’ strike,
police reporter Efrat Weiss and Mirit Hushmand, who edits the morning “Agenda”
program anchored by Keren Neubach.
The union representatives of the
journalists slated for dismissal have asked the National Labor Court to issue an
injunction against the dismissal notices, which were issued last week without
any prior warning.