'Comparison between IBA, Channel 10 is a hollow ruse'

Shama-Hacohen's comment comes after Assaf Amir questioned how c'tee could consider waiving IBA’s debts while refusing to postpone Channel 10’s.

By NADAV SHEMER
December 22, 2011 22:44
2 minute read.
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IBA logo 311. (photo credit: Courtesy of IBA)

 
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Joint Knesset Economics and Education Committee chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) called comparisons between Channel 10 and the Israel Broadcasting Authority “a hollow ruse” on Thursday, as the committee discusses the networks’ respective debt repayments.

A hearing on whether to extend the deadline for Channel 10’s repayment of NIS 60 million to the state was moved to Monday, at the request of network chief Yossi Varshavsky, who could not be present on Thursday for personal reasons. Likewise, a hearing on whether to write off the IBA’s 2011 debts was also postponed to Monday.

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Last week, the Knesset Economics Committee voted eight to five against a Channel 10 request to give it 12 more months to pay what it owes, but Shama-Hacohen agreed Wednesday to a request from MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) to put the matter before the committee again.

At Thursday’s meeting, Israel Film and Television Producers Association chairman Assaf Amir questioned how the committee could consider waiving the IBA’s debts while simultaneously refusing to postpone Channel 10’s repayment.

This prompted the “hollow ruse” response from Shama-Hacohen (Likud), who has said several times at recent committee meetings that there is no comparison between the IBA, which is a state broadcaster, and Channel 10, a commercial enterprise.

Prior to the meeting, Cabel told Army Radio that this time, government MKs would have to explain their refusal to extend the payment deadline. Cabel also drew the comparison between the two different networks; he asked how the government could be willing to write off NIS 300 million owed by the IBA for failing to meet its obligations to devote 36 percent of its annual budget to the local production industry, while rejecting Channel 10 “out of hand.”

MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who spoke on Army Radio at the same time, rejected Cabel’s assertion that the government’s motives were political. He said government MKs had no dispute with Channel 10, but – like Shama-HaCohen – he said the difference was that the IBA is a public broadcaster to which the state has certain responsibilities.

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The allegation of political motives goes back to a report by Haaretz in November that quoted an anonymous source as saying that people in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office were trying to have Channel 10 investigative reporter Raviv Druker fired.

Netanyahu and his wife Sara are suing Druker and his colleague Mickey Rosenthal for libel, over a broadcast that alleged earlier this year that the prime minister billed two organizations for flights the couple took in 2006.

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