FILE PHOTO: Employees work in the offices of Kan, the new Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, in Tel Aviv, Israel November 3, 2016..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
KAN, the call sign of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation that on May 15 replaced the now defunct Israel Broadcasting Authority, marks its first month on the air on Thursday.
Even after two years of preparation, and despite the fact that most of the KAN employees are former employees of the IBA, KAN’s launch was not in a blaze of glory.
There were just too many glitches.
On the one hand it wanted to retain the IBA aura with which listeners and viewers were familiar, and on the other it wanted to introduce elements that were new and different and which could compete with commercial television.
One of these is the Israeli version of the popular British quiz show The Chase featured on Kan 11 in which a team of four contestants who do not know one another pit their general knowledge against that of a genius known as “the Chaser,” to see which can answer more questions correctly in a limited time frame and accumulate or lose prize money. It competes with Chanel 10’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which is much more viewer friendly, and seems to be more authentic.
In The Chase, the genius, aka “the Chaser,” is Itai Hermann who often answers questions before quizmaster Ido Rosenblum has finished asking them. Perhaps Hermann’s genius extends to telepathy, but the general impression is that something fishy is afoot.
On the other hand, Kan 11’s news programs are good and getting better, though many viewers are of the opinion that Michal Rabinovich who was the lead news presenter on IBA’s Channel 1 did a much better job than Geula Even- Sa’ar is doing for the new station.
While a person’s looks or disabilities should not be allowed to obscure their professional capabilities, Even’s on screen squinting can be disconcerting, and her style is too casual compared to that of Rabinovich who was much more authoritative. Sometimes it seems that Even is trying to emulate Chanel 2’s Yonit Levy.
Kan 11 is to be commended for drawing the public’s attention to the fact that in all the promos for the upcoming Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem there is no mention that this is the 20th anniversary of the Maccabiah bridge disaster, when on July 14, 1997, at the opening of the 15th Maccabiah, a temporary wooden bridge across the Yarkon River over which delegations were scheduled to march to the National Stadium in Ramat Gan collapsed when some of the 373 members of the Australian delegation were making their way across it. Four people died and 60 were injured – some of them permanently.
Kan 11 has also shown a very important yet disturbing news feature on haredi pedophiles from the United States who find a haven in Israel under the Law of Return, and how they managed to circumnavigate a regulation stipulating that all immigrants must have official certification that they have no criminal record.
Another important revelation by Kan 11 is the extent to which America’s Satmar Hassidim, who are members of one of the most affluent of hassidic movements, fund ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist institutions in Israel. Video footage of mega gatherings of Satmar Hassidim in New York testifies to the fact that despite assimilation and intermarriage on the part of American Jews, there is no fear of Jews or Judaism disappearing.
The problem is that most religiously observant American Jews will be anti-Zionist.
Kan 11’s entertainment programs are somewhat juvenile and unlikely to garner high ratings. News and imported documentaries are the channel’s saving grace.
One suspects that KAN’s Facebook is edited to suit its interests. Whereas there was a lot of criticism – mainly where radio stations were concerned – these seem to have disappeared and the Facebook account is saturated with Likes.
But the negative comments that are no longer visible or easily accessible complained that there was no archive, that the music signal for the news was unsuitable, that there are occasional long silences on all stations, that interviewees are denied the chance to complete a sentence, that late night talk shows barely exist and that telephone connections are frequently faulty.
The latter was also the bugbear of Israel Radio under the IBA umbrella. Both IBA and KAN attributed the blame to Bezeq. The problem has been constant for so long, that it provokes a question as to whether public broadcasting is being sabotaged.
Broadcasters who are working out of the KAN studios in Modi’in complain of the conditions, the lack of air conditioning, the outdated equipment and the isolation from the center of the city. Most of those who came in from IBA are working much harder for less money, and some who for years were on regular salaries and protected by collective wage agreements work as freelancers.
Many who previously were attached to either the radio or the television, now work in both as well as online.
KAN has also found a way of staying within its budget while keeping abreast of the news. Broadcasters in all spheres interview their colleagues from other media, most frequently Oren Nahari who used to be the IBA foreign news editor and who now works for Walla News, and is almost a regular on both Kan 11 and Reshet Bet radio.
The IBA had an admirable online archive system whereby listeners or viewers who missed a program could easily find it on the website, which also ran brief biographies and head shots of all the regular broadcasters. This is sorely missing from KAN, but perhaps, by the time it gets past its first 100 days, all that will improve.