(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
After confirming that the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation will go on air on May 1, acting Communications Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) said on Sunday that the network will be supervised by a newly formed body that will be elected by politicians.
“The IBC will go on air on May 1, just as the law says, you can all relax,” said Hanegbi in an interview with Army Radio. “But it will not be left without any supervision.”
Hanegbi stressed that government’s right to appoint a supervision body over the media is equivalent to its right to appoint other senior posts. “As the cabinet has the right to appoint the IDF chief of staff, the police commissioner, the Supreme Court justices and the heads of the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] and the Mossad, it has the right to appoint a regulator in the Communications Ministry that will oversee the media,” he said.
“We will not spend NIS 700 million on a new corporation so that they can do whatever they want,” he added.
Hanegbi was defending the initiative by his ministry to create a body that will replace the Second Authority for Television and Radio, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council and the Israel Broadcasting Corporation Council to oversee all the television networks and radio stations in Israel.
This council’s membership is to come from the three replaced organizations, and have 11 additional members, two of whom will be cabinet members. It will have to authority to fill various positions in the IBC.
When asked about the current directors of the IBC, Hanegbi replied that after this body is formed, it will assess whether to keep them or to lay them off.
“It is a long process that includes legislation, and it will take months,” he said.
“Then this new body will be formed – the supervising council – and it will decide who the right people are to lead the Israel Broadcasting Corporation.
“There is still a dialogue between the government’s ministries on how this procedure will happen,” Hanegbi added. “There will be a specific timetable in which we will make sure that the IBC will be supervised, just like Channels 2 and 10, and the radio stations.”
On Saturday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) responded to claims that this move will infringe upon the freedom of the press. “I promise that no freedoms will be harmed – not the freedom of speech and not the freedom of the press,” he said in an interview with Channel 2 news. “When I promised that the IBC will go on air, people here were skeptical, and here we are, a month before [it goes on air]. So as I kept that promise, I will keep my promise on this matter as well.”
Kahlon also dismissed claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is behind this move. “He is not dealing with communications anymore,” he said. “Now we are working on this initiative only with Tzachi [Hanegbi] and Momo [Communications Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber].