(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Zionist Union’s Eitan Cabel, who chairs the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, and committee member Yossi Yonah sent a letter to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon complaining that the budget and arrangements bills that were passed during last week’s Knesset marathon lack any reference to the Finance Ministry’s obligation to fund the operation of a new public broadcasting service.
In view of this, Cabel called an emergency meeting of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee to be held during the legislature’s recess.
The issue of financial resources for the new service, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, wasn’t mentioned, they said in the letter sent last week, and neither was there a mention of the resources that will enable the Israel Broadcasting Authority to continue operating until the launch of the IBC.
Ignoring the financial needs of both entities will bring about the ruination of public broadcasting in Israel, and will result in a darkened television screen, they declared.
Cabel and Yona charged that the darkening of the screen is perceived by some senior members of the Finance Ministry as a possibility. This, they said, violates the public broadcasting law that was passed by the Knesset last year. The law contains a clause that obligates the Finance Ministry to resolve all the budgetary differences in the IBA’s operational costs and in the setting up of the IBC.
The uncertainty about the future poses a dire threat to the broadcasting authority’s ability to properly fulfill its role – a factor that is harmful to a democratic administration, they said.
Copies of the letter were sent to Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who chairs the special committee that is preparing the amended public broadcasting law, and to Ophir Akunis, the Likud minister-without-portfolio in the Communications Ministry.