The Cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved expanding the number of free TV channels available to the public from five to 12 regular channels and four high definition (HD) channels within the next two years.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office, the goal of widening the basket of free channels will hopefully “lead to a lowering of prices in the field of multi-channel television, thus aiding families of reduced economic means.”
Currently, only channels 1, 2, 10, the Knesset Channel and Channel 33 are free. Under the Sunday’s decision, all regional and national radio stations will be free, as well as Educational TV channel 23, Russian-language channel 9, music channel 24 and an HD channel will be added at first. In the second stage, one channel in Arabic, a heritage channel and additional HD channels will also be added.
“This is good news for Israeli consumers, especially those of reduced means,” commented Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “It is a socio-economic interest of the highest order; there can be no social policy without a free economy. There is no reason why citizens should pay to maintain duopolies and monopolies that stifle competition.”