Netanyahu: I’m not trying to control Israel's media market

Netanyahu came under harsh criticism from both the Right and the Left last week for delaying the launch of a new public broadcasting corporation.

By
July 24, 2016 12:19
2 minute read.
netanyahu knesset

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Knesset cabinet meeting. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back against those accusing him of trying to control the country’s media market, saying he wasn’t trying to close television networks but rather open new ones.

“I have heard much verbiage recently about my attempts, as it were, to take control of the communications market,” he said on Sunday at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, perhaps a reference to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who has made such claims. “The opposite is the truth.”

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Netanyahu came under harsh criticism from both the right and the left last week for agreeing with Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn to delay the launching of a new public broadcasting corporation from October to January 2018, to replace the much maligned IBA.

The prime minister denied that he wanted to “darken” Channel 1’s screen, saying that had he wanted to do that, he would have allowed the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation go on the air before it was ready.

“An extension was needed to enable the new corporation to organize as needed and go on air when it is ready,” he said, adding that during the interim, Channel 1 will continue to function as it is now.

But the main reform in the communications area, said Netanyahu – who along with his other duties also holds the country’s communications portfolio – is to allow more television networks dealing with news into the television market.

“Israel has a centralization of television broadcasts that is almost unprecedented in the free world,” he said.


The prime minister said that states with similar or even smaller populations have more networks than Israel, citing Finland with eight networks, Denmark six, and Belgium with five. Israel has four commercial networks, with Channel 20, which began broadcasting two years ago, having joined Channels 1, 2 and 10.

“The Israeli public has the right to have free choice in television, and that is what I am working toward,” said Netanyahu, whose critics accuse him of using his authority as communications minister to muffle a free press. “Once there were only two cellular companies, two bus companies, and two airlines; now there are more, because we opened the market to competition. That will also be the case with the television market.”

Netanyahu said that any investor who wants to invest in television networks – be they from the right or the left – will be able to do so, and “the Israeli public will decide what to watch, it will not be decided for them.” He said that opening the market is the reason he is holding the communications portfolio.

“I want to make something else clear,” Netanyahu said. “I will not be bought or deterred, not by criticism, nor by being smeared, nor by flattering screen time,” which – he said sarcastically – “as you all know, I receive endlessly.”

Netanyahu said that the greater the criticism of his moves to open the market, “the more I understand I am doing the right thing.”

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

The Lions of Jordan Battalion
December 17, 2018
A quarter of young religious women enlisting in the IDF, study finds

By JEREMY SHARON