Knesset panel waives IBA’s debts

Vote on giving Channel 10 more time to repay debt postponed again.

By NADAV SHEMER
December 27, 2011 02:37
2 minute read.
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IBA logo311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Knesset Economics Committee approved waiving the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s 2011 debts Monday, but again delayed a vote on whether to forgive financially- stricken Channel 10’s debt repayments for another year.

Kadima MK Yoel Hasson slammed the government for repeatedly delaying discussion on Channel 10, and in particular called into question the actions of Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who led Monday’s meeting.

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“Some 120,000 people demonstrated in Moscow Sunday against the same sort of behavior exhibited by Elkin in the Economics Committee this morning. This Putinesque horror show and the silencing of the committee chairman are preludes to the blacking out of Channel 10 on January 27,” Hasson said.

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Channel 10 CEO Yossi Varshavsky said he was perplexed that MKs had agreed to pardon the IBA’s debts while at the same time resist allowing Channel 10 more time to repay its debts.

“Over a matter of NIS 45 million [in debts], for which we are not seeking a pardon, Stalin and his cultural commissar [Andrei] Zhdanov want to shut us down for doing our job.”

The allegation of political motives goes back to a report by Haaretz in November that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to have Channel 10 investigative reporter Raviv Druker fired.

Netanyahu and wife Sara are suing Druker and a colleague over a broadcast earlier this year of allegations the prime minister billed two organizations for flights in 2006.

Varshavsky later asked that his comments be withdrawn from the record, following an angry reaction from MK Israel Eichler (UTJ), who said that Stalin and Zhdanov shut down synagogues and harmed Soviet Jewry.

The real comparison, Eichler said, should be between the actions of Stalin and Zhdanov and those of Channel 10, who he accused of inciting against Judaism.

The big winner from Monday’s committee meeting, the IBA, had owed the state NIS 300m. for failing to meet its obligations to devote 36 percent of its annual budget to the local production industry.

The IBA itself says it invested just NIS 25m. in local production this year, instead of the required NIS 176m.

A proposal by MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) to have the entire Knesset vote on waiving the IBA’s debts from 2012 and beyond was rejected, as was a proposal by MK Einat Wilf (Independence), to assess the broadcaster’s obligations to local production on a quarterly – rather than a yearly – basis.

“We already know they will not meet their obligations in the future,” Cabel said.


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