Soccer fans who were fearful they might miss out on telecasts of the World Cup from Brazil, which begins on June 12, can rest easy.
Despite the ructions between Israel Broadcasting Authority employees and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, who wants to close down the IBA, both television and radio broadcasts of the matches will be relayed without disruption.
Questioned by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Moshe Segev, the chairman of the Channel 1 Technicians and Engineers Union said that out of a sense of responsibility to the public, an agreement had been reached with the Histadrut labor federation whereby sanctions would be suspended in relation to the World Cup during the duration of the month-long tournament.
This does not necessarily mean sanctions will be temporarily lifted from other broadcasts. For now, reporters, political commentators, ministers, members of Knesset, experts, entertainers who are promoting festivals or solo shows and many others are making their way to the IBA’s various studios to be interviewed live because technicians have placed a ban on telephone reports and interviews.
It’s almost like it was in the days before cellphones existed.
Avi Nissankoren, who recently took over as head of the Histadrut, told IBA workers they must not inflict the harm done to them on the general public. Erdan is punishing the workers for the incompetence of management, and Nissankoren does not believe the workers should punish the public for Erdan’s riding roughshod over them.
The public is entitled to enjoy an international sports event that is held every four years, he said.
At the same time, Nissankoren made it clear to Erdan that there will be hell to pay if he harms the families of 2,000 employees by dismantling the IBA.
Veteran unionists within the IBA say Erdan shot from the hip without stopping to examine all the legal issues involved, and he may not find it as easy to dismantle the IBA as he thought, despite the fact his bill to close down the IBA passed its first reading in the Knesset.
Meanwhile, opposition is growing within the Knesset to certain aspects of the wording of the bill, and unless radical amendments are made, the bill is unlikely to pass a second and third reading.
In addition, budgetary constraints have caused senior officials at the Finance Ministry to veto Erdan’s plan to do away with the broadcasting license fee, which brings in revenue in excess of NIS 400 million. The plan, due to come into effect by March 2015, has the support of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
Erdan has said he wants to create a new public broadcasting network with a greatly reduced number of staff, based on recommendations of the Landes Committee, which he established soon after assuming office. The initial cost is estimated at NIS 200m., which would have to be funded by the Finance Ministry, which would also have to supply funds to pay out all those being dismissed.
Just as the Finance Ministry reneged on its signed agreement for drastic reforms at the IBA, it is likely to do so again with regard to a public broadcasting entity, given the amount of money it will have to shell out to close one stateowned institution and open another in its stead.
Nissankoren and unions heads at the IBA have stated categorically they are not opposed to reforms, but insist that such reforms should be part of a well-thought-out plan that includes previously signed agreements.