Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has pledged his support to the Israel Broadcasting Authority for as long as it continues to operate.
According to the public broadcasting law, the Finance Ministry must provide funding for the IBA until such time as its replacement is launched.
As things stand now, the targeted launch date of April 1 will not be met. This was announced on Monday by Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar, who chairs the Knesset State Control Committee.
In an interview on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet on Tuesday, Kahlon told early-morning current-affairs anchor Arieh Golan that public broadcasting was vital and that he personally thought Israel Radio did a very good job. He added that he considered it “the shield of democracy.”
He has maintained this stand since he first entered the Knesset, he said, and pledged that for as long as he remained finance minister, the IBA would continue to operate.
Former communications minister Gilad Erdan initiated the closure of the IBA. One of the reasons was its ever-growing deficit and the reluctance of the Finance Ministry to keep funding a financially deficient operation. This came after the ministry, together with the Histadrut and the Jerusalem Journalists Association, had concluded a signed agreement to drastically reduce the IBA payroll.
However, Erdan was not satisfied with that, and he pushed through legislation for the closure of the IBA, the sale of its assets and the establishment of a new public broadcasting service to be known as the Israel Broadcasting Corporation.
When Erdan became public security minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assumed the duties of communications minister before appointing MK Ophir Akunis a minister without portfolio, with responsibility for the IBA.
In this capacity, Akunis (today minister of science, technology and space) promoted an addendum to the public broadcasting law introduced by United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler that barred IBA journalists from expressing their opinions. Netanyahu opposed the controversial clause, as a result of which Akunis quit the IBA. That was almost six months ago, and since then, there has been minimal progress.
No suitable premises were found in Jerusalem for the new broadcasting corporation’s television studios.
There was a proposal that TV broadcasts be temporarily relayed from Modi’in, but this did not sit well with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and the idea was shelved.
Meanwhile, provisions were made for Israel Radio to move from Romema back into its old home on Helenei Hamalka Street in the capital, and costly renovations are underway. Anchor Golan surmised that broadcasts from the current studios in Romema would continue for at least a year.
In addition, Israel Radio employees have not yet been told who will stay and who will go as part of the reorganization.
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