Israeli television control room.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Just over six months after Israel’s biggest commercial TV station split in two, a merger is set to once again shake up the television market.
On Wednesday, Reshet – which split from Keshet last year – signed a merger agreement with Channel Ten. The move, however, still must be approved by the Israel Antitrust Authority.
In November, after almost 25 years on the air, Channel 2’s two broadcasters, Keshet and Reshet, split and each began airing 24/7 on channels 12 and 13 respectively, while “Channel Ten” moved to 14. But the split was rough on the TV market as a whole, and all of Israel’s commercial networks have posted losses since last year.
“The merger deal was inevitable in the current television market, which is suffering huge losses,” Channel Ten CEO Yossi Warshawsky said on Wednesday.
“I want to believe that the deal will be quickly approved by the antitrust commissioner.”
Since the split last year, Reshet and Keshet have both been simultaneously airing the Channel 2 News broadcast each evening. If the deal is approved, Reshet – which will be the controlling company – will take over Channel Ten’s news department. Keshet will likely buy out Reshet’s share in the Channel 2 News Company.
According to Ynet, which first reported the news, the merger could take effect by January.
More than 100 employees are expected to be terminated.
Each of the channel’s most popular shows – like Reshet’s Big Brother, The Amazing Race and The Voice, and Channel Ten’s Baby Boom and Gav HaUma (“Back of the Nation”) – are likely to stay put. But some of the more poorly performing shows could get the ax if the merger takes effect.
According to Globes, since the split took effect last year, the three commercial stations – Keshet, Reshet and Channel Ten – all sustained losses of millions and sometimes tens of millions of shekels per month, which will amount to more than NIS 200 million in one year.
The split was mandated when the Knesset passed a series of TV reforms back in 2011 designed to increase competition in the TV market.
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said on Wednesday that he stands behind his position of supporting a proliferation of commercial channels and healthy competition.
“At the same time, I will not let channels be closed,” Kara tweeted. “Just as I saved Channel 20, I will help every channel in distress.” Kara said he will wait to hear the decision of the Antitrust Authority “and then I will make a decision.”