(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
New statistics were published on Tuesday on the distribution of haredi newspapers by the TGI research and polling group, which showed in particular the ongoing success of the Hapeles newspaper, the mouthpiece of the rebel Jerusalem Faction.
According to the poll covering January to December 2014, the Hapeles daily has a 11.9 percent market share in the haredi sector, compared to 20.4 for its main rival, Yated Ne’eman, the long-time media organ of Degel Hatorah, the mainstream non-hassidic haredi political party.
Hapeles and Yated both issue free editions once a week, Hapeles on Friday and Yated on Tuesday. Hapeles’s free Friday edition has a similar market share to Yated’s full-price edition, 16.7% for Hapeles compared to 16.9% for Yated.
TGI’s last survey covering 2013 had Hapeles at 11.0% and Yated at 19.3%.
Yated’s free edition published on Tuesday has a massive 57.9% market share on that day however.
Hamodia, serving the hassidic community, had a 16.6% market share of the daily newspapers, and Hamevaser, also covering the hassidic sector had 10.7%.
Hapeles’s publishers and leaders of the Jerusalem Faction have frequently trumpeted the significant market share it has gained in the haredi, non-hassidic sector and have claimed that it reflects the size of the community that identifies with the group.
Dr. Haim Zicherman, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute’s Religion and State Project, said that he believes the Jerusalem Faction represents approximately one quarter of the total non-hassidic haredi community.
This estimate approximates but is slightly under Hapeles’s market share, which is close to one third of the non-hassidic sector.
The conflict between the Jerusalem Faction community and leaders has been fierce and divisive, arising from a dispute over the leadership of the non-hassidic haredi community that arose after the death of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv in 2012, who was acknowledged by both sides as the rabbinical leader of the sector.
And the conflict has boiled over into the real of newspaper distribution. In February 2014, the rabbinic leaders of the mainstream haredi community Rabbis Aharon Leib Shteinman, 102, and Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, 87, wrote a public letter calling on the haredi community not to advertise in Hapeles, as part of an attempt to financially cripple the paper.
The two rabbis criticized Hapeles for “besmirching Torah sages and spreading hatred among those who fear God,” and then “called to all those for whom fear of God is in their heart not to allow this newspaper to enter their house in anyway and not to help it in anyway, not to be interviewed in it and not to advertise anything with it in any way, and those who do advertise in it should know that they are assisting the desecration of God’s name in supporting this illegitimate enterprise.”
In response, Jerusalem Faction supporters allegedly engaged in a campaign of harassment against businesses refusing to advertise in Hapeles.
Last Tuesday, 22 suspects connected with the Jerusalem Faction were arrested on charges of extorting and harassing business executives into buying advertising space in the newspaper.
Deputy-editor of Hapeles Yishaiyahu Wein told The Jerusalem Post that the paper is pleased with the growing market share, and said that it is overtaking established papers in distribution, such as Hamevaser, after just two-and-a-half years in print.
He added that the newspaper is still suffering financially from the boycott.