Knesset cancels 'no opinions' clause in Public Broadcast Law

32 MKs voted to cancel the clause and none opposed.

November 30, 2015 17:42
1 minute read.
Israeli Knesset

Israeli Knesset members arguing in parliament.. (photo credit: KNESSET CHANNEL)

The Knesset voted to cancel a controversial amendment banning the expression of personal opinions in public broadcasts, in a final vote on Monday.

MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) said, “There needs to be ethics in public broadcast and in all broadcasts, but it is not the Knesset’s business.”

Shai, who proposed the bill to cancel the provision together with MK Yossi Yonah (Zionist Union), advised the heads of the new Israel Broadcast Corporation to draft their own ethical code.

Science and Technology Minister Ophir Akunis, who was responsible for reforming the Israel Broadcast Authority, denied that the clause was meant to censor anyone.

“There was a great public upheaval about nothing, which was based on imprecision, in the best case, and despicableness in the worst case,” he argued. “Everyone used political, false spin, including people in the government.”

Akunis said the clause was meant to ensure that personal opinions would not be part of news broadcasts.

“I did not want to censor... I wanted the views of entire sections of the public who feel excluded – because their stances are not expressed – to be expressed,” he explained.

In a second and third reading, 32 MKs voted to cancel the clause and none opposed.

The canceled provision was added by MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) during the second reading of the bill to dismantle the Israel Broadcast Authority and replace it with a new public corporation.

It stated that broadcasts should “avoid one-sidedness, prejudice, expressions of personal opinion, giving grades and affixing labels, ignoring facts or selectively emphasizing them not according to their newsworthiness.”

Eichler said he based the text on the “Nakdi Document,” a part of the IBA ethical code since 1972.

The amendment passed in September.

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