MK: New plan for public broadcasting ‘harmful to freedom of expression’

Haaretz carried a front page story on Thursday stating that the government wants to kill the IBC while it’s still in the womb.

October 21, 2016 06:28
2 minute read.

IBA EMPLOYEES protest outside the Knesset yesterday. The sign reads, ‘Democracy=Public Broadcasting’. (photo credit: IBA)

Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar, who chairs the Knesset State Control Committee and is a member of the Special Committee for Discussion on the Public Broadcasting Bill of 2015, has lambasted Prime Minister and Communications Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for allegedly wanting to destroy public broadcasting.

The media rumor mill has in recent months promoted the idea that Netanyahu has had a change of heart regarding the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, and now wants to abort it.

Much of this supposition derives from two essential factors. One was a declaration by Netanyahu that the new public broadcasting service that is replacing the Israel Broadcasting Authority, would not become operational until it was fully equipped to do so; and the other was a declaration by coalition chairman David Bitan that he would work towards eliminating the new public broadcasting legislation, and would try to save the IBA.

Conventional wisdom says that Bitan, who is a Likud MK, would not be voicing such intentions without the backing of Netanyahu, and possibly at the behest of Netanyahu.

Haaretz carried a front page story on Thursday stating that the government wants to kill the IBC while it’s still in the womb.

There is now, according to the report, a new initiative whereby a new broadcasting entity will be established in place of the IBC, and will include what remains of the IBA, Army Radio and Educational Television.

Over the years, there have been attempts to do away with all three, albeit not necessarily at the same time.

The proposed entity will require new legislation, the establishment of a executive council and the election of a chairman and director-general.

A merger of this kind could spell doom for Army Radio which has been a springboard for some of the country’s top broadcasting personalities.

Elharar, who chaired the special committee that voted on the establishment of a replacement for the IBA, issued a statement on Thursday in which she said that the government has finished annulling legislation introduced by Yesh Atid in the previous Knesset, and is now rescinding its own initiated laws.

“The initiative of [former communications minister] Gilad Erdan is disappearing under the constant need of the prime minister to control the media,” she stated. “The IBC is just the beginning of this control,” Elharar continued.

“Now the prime minister wants to merge a number of broadcasting outlets which can only be harmful to freedom of expression.”

Elharar dismissed Netanyahu’s contention that he wants to promote competition, and charged him with reducing it, and in so doing, causing harm to Israel’s democracy.

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