IBA staff to decide today whether to go on strike

Despite all efforts to remove political influence from public broadcasting, the new broadcasting law will give politicians more rather than less influence over broadcasting.

March 14, 2017 06:08
2 minute read.
IBA HEADQUARTERS is located on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road.

IBA HEADQUARTERS is located on Jerusalem’s Jaffa Road.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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Israel Broadcasting Authority staff will hold a mass meeting on Monday to decide whether to go on strike before the demise of the IBA, which is scheduled for April 30.

On May 1, some 1,000 IBA employees will find themselves jobless, and many will be unable to reenter the workforce, either for lack of positions for their specific talents and qualifications, or because they are no longer young and will be automatically rejected on that basis.

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The new Israel Broadcasting Corporation is due to begin operating on April 30, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while communications minister, tried to prevent this from happening and said he wanted to rehabilitate the IBA.

Yet long before he took over the communications portfolio, he allowed and even encouraged the former communications minister Gilad Erdan to systematically destroy the IBA, almost from the day that Erdan came into office.

Now, several politicians including ministers are beginning to realize that they may have erred in supporting Erdan’s mission to do away with the IBA and to establish a new public broadcasting entity in its stead.

Coalition chairman David Bitan, who in the past said the IBC would not eventuate, has changed his tune, and in an interview on Israel Radio said it would go to air but that several changes would be made in its management and staff because it is too left-wing and too critical of the government.

Science Technology and Space Minister MK Ofir Akunis, who was a minister-without-portfolio responsible for the IBA in the Communications Ministry, said in an interview on Channel 1 that the new Broadcasting Law is stupid, adding that his heart goes out to those IBA employees who will join the ranks of the unemployed.

Former environment minister Avi Gabai, who is now running for the chairmanship of the Labor Party, voiced his concern in an interview on Israel radio over foreigners having controlling interest in Israeli media, which is dangerous he warned, and emphasized that the US, which is a bastion of democracy, does not allow foreign investors to have a controlling stake in American media. Gabai also said the new Broadcasting Law that in effect will put a politically appointed council of 11 in charge of all electronic broadcasting – both public and commercial – is not a matter of broadcasting reform but a reform in democracy. “The government can’t keep zig-zagging over public broadcasting,” he said.

Despite all efforts to remove political influence from public broadcasting, the new broadcasting law will give politicians more rather than less influence over broadcasting.

MK Shelly Yacimovich, a former leader of the Labor Party who is eyeing the chairmanship of the Histadrut labor federation, is a frequent interviewee on Israel Radio, where she once anchored It’s all Talk. Yacimovich believes there is still time to save the IBA. She will do everything possible toward that aim, she said in an interview on Reshet Bet on Monday.

Yacimovich said she also worries about the IBC people, who despite assurances that the IBC will become operational on April 30, are still unsure about their future – and they, too, could find themselves unemployed.

She shared Gabai’s concern about foreign investors having controlling interest in Israeli media.

MK Esawi Frej, who vigorously fought to keep the IBA afloat, said in an interview on Channel 1: “It isn’t over until it’s over.”

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