A broadcasting room at Israel Radio.
(photo credit: COURTESY IBA)
Representatives from different media outlets joined colleagues from the Israel Broadcasting Authority on Wednesday at an emergency meeting at Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv in a bid to save the public broadcasting organization from shutting down.
There was consensus on the part of speakers from both public broadcasting and commercial media outlets that public broadcasting is an essential feature of democracy and that it is a cultural asset.
The effort to do away with the IBA is the beginning of the end of a free press, some of the speakers said, adding that they believed that the IBA was first in line in a series of measures designed to make the media toe a government line.
Prior to the meeting, Ophir Akunis, the minister without portfolio in the Communications Ministry, and Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who chairs a special Knesset committee that is formulating amendments to the public broadcasting law that was passed last year, agreed that the IBA’s 1,580 staff members would not be collectively dismissed, as was originally intended.
Instead, the liquidator of the IBA would be able to dismiss individual employees as part of a streamlining process.
Veteran radio broadcaster Arye Golan, who moderated the meeting, said that letters of dismissal to an unknown number of employees would be sent on September 3, and added that they were not an ideal Rosh Hashana gift.
Media personalities also spoke in favor of public broadcasting.
Channel 2 journalist Ilana Dayan noted that her own freedom as a broadcaster would become more limited without the presence of a public broadcasting service.
Dan Margalit, who used to broadcast on Channel 1, and now appears on the Educational Television and is a senior journalist with Israel Hayom, said that rather than going ahead with an inept piece of legislation, it would be more advisable to go back to previously agreed-upon reforms.