Miller: Merging IBA with Educational Television illogical

Consensus among committee members that forcing IETV to merge with the IBA would be undemocratic and would silence another media outlet.

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December 1, 2011 06:18
2 minute read.
Israel Beiteinu MK Alex Miller

Alex Miller 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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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 Broadcasting Authority.

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.

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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 million.

If it were to merge with the IBA, several of its programs would have to be discarded as would much of its operating staff.

IBA 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.

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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.

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