Alex Miller 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will find himself with yet another battle on
his hands if he tries to merge Israel Educational Television with the Israel
In response to reports that Netanyahu, who has
ministerial responsibility for the implementation of the Broadcasting Authority
Law, wants to merge the two broadcasting entities, Israel Beiteinu MK Alex
Miller, who chairs the Knesset Education Committee, convened an urgent meeting
to discuss the matter.
Despite differences in their reasons for wanting
to preserve the continuity and independence of IETV, there was consensus among
committee members that forcing IETV to merge with the IBA would be undemocratic
and would silence another media outlet.
Netanyahu has refrained from
making a statement regarding his intentions, but there have been previous
attempts to either close down IETV or merge it with the IBA, essentially for
reasons of cost-efficiency.
IETV operates on an annual budget of NIS 80
If it were to merge with the IBA, several of its programs would
have to be discarded as would much of its operating staff.
director-general Yoni Ben-Menachem said all he knew about any merger plans was
from what he had read in the media. No one from the Prime Minister’s Office had
made any approach to the IBA in this regard, he said.
Moreover within the
cost-cutting measures to be introduced as a means of cutting down on the IBA’s
deficit and implementing reforms, the IBA had been instructed to sell off a
large portion of its assets, as well as to centralize its studio broadcasting
facilities, he said.
Education Ministry director-general Dalit Stauber
quoted Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar as saying IETV is a valuable component in
the education system, serving the targets of the Education Ministry twelve hours
a day. Stauber, who is also acting CEO of Educational Television, conceded there
was room for improvement, and expressed confidence that such improvement would
be forthcoming once a new director-general takes over.
A merger with IETV
will not improve the situation of the IBA, particularly at a time when it is on
the brink of a drastic reforms, said Miller. Maintaining the independence of
IETV is important, he emphasized, adding he would not allow the government or
its head to use the cheap populist platform of rumor to change the status quo,
especially in light of the fact that representatives of both the IBA and IETV
have stated the two bodies are not negotiating on the subject.