David Bitan à en action.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Presumably spurred by coalition chairman David Bitan’s declaration that he wants to revitalize the Israel Broadcasting Authority, and do away with its replacement (the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, which goes under the KAN call-sign), the IBC Council on Tuesday night sent urgent letters to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also communications minister, and to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to inform them that KAN will be ready to go to air on January 1, 2017.
The letter was part of a 35-page dossier outlining the IBC’s proposed budgetary expenditure, the studios in Jerusalem, Modi’in, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba from which it will be broadcasting, the program lineups for television, eight radio stations and a digital network as well as other essential details.
KAN’s state-of-the-art digital system is geared to apps and the creation of content on social media, and it is already functioning.
IBC also acquired 65 mobile broadcasting units and 10,000 hours of video for its archival infrastructure.
In line with the Public Broadcasting Law adopted last year, the IBC will be limited to approximately 700 employees, including 56% who were previously or are currently employed by the IBA.
So far, the IBC has signed contracts with 535 employees but expects to have the full complement of 700 by January 1. Some 80 applicants are presently in an advanced process of joining the IBC, and negotiations are being conducted with additional potential employees.
One of the major problems of the IBA, which will be fully dismantled once the IBC becomes operational, was a budget for local productions. The IBC has allocated NIS 139 million out of an overall annual budget of NIS 740m. for local productions, which will include 82 features, 53 documentaries and investigative reports, and 59 productions in Arabic. In addition NIS 200m. have been allocated for original productions and will be outsourced, thereby adding to the incomes of additional people in the television industry.
KAN chairman, Gil Omer, in comparing KAN’s total projected annual expenditure with that of the IBA, said that KAN would permanently save the state in excess of NIS 390m. per annum. This was in response to Bitan’s contention that closure of the IBC would save the state NIS 2.2 billion.
Bitan plans to launch his offensive next Monday (October 31).
There is already considerable opposition to Bitan’s proposal, including within his own Likud party.
Omer said that KAN has endeavored to be ready on all three platforms by January 1, and was capable of fulfilling this obligation.
It now remains for Netanyahu and Kahlon to formally give their approval. Bitan has countered the data in the dossier, saying it is flawed and full of holes.
On Wednesday of next week, the Knesset Economic Committee headed by Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel, will convene to discuss the Public Broadcasting Law and the projected launch of KAN against the backdrop of Bitan’s proposal to close down the IBC and to act on the previously agreed-upon reforms for the IBA. It will also consider letters sent by the IBC Council to Netanyahu and Kahlon.
Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for the IBA, which on Wednesday announced that for the second time in its history, the IBA would be sending singers to represent Israel at the Junior Eurovision contest taking place in Malta in November.
The youngsters are Timothy Sanikov, 13, who is a member for the third season of The Voice Kids in Ukraine, and Shira Freiman, 13, a finalist in the third season of the reality television show The Music School.
The contest, in which singers from 17 countries will compete, can be seen live on Channel One and on HD on Sunday, November 20 at 5:30 p.m. For the auditions, adolescents from all over Israel flocked to the Petah Tikva Cultural Center. Sanikov, a resident of Bat Yam is already a seasoned international stage and screen performer; and Freiman is not only a singer but also a dancer and musician with a preference for jazz. She has been playing the saxophone since she was three years old, and has appeared in numerous musical productions.