If the appointment of Geula Even-Saar as key news presenter on Israel Broadcasting Corporation’s Kan was what has been described as “a poke in the eye” of the prime minister, the announcement on Wednesday that Keren Neubach will be among the presenters on the Kan 88 radio station will be a poke in the other eye.
Neubach, a prize-winning and uncompromising journalist – who on her Agenda program on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet exposes many flaws in the system and leaves none of them hanging – is among the broadcast journalists whom politicians love to hate.
She has been branded one of the so-called leftist journalists that Netanyahu reportedly wants to get rid of, even though she has never stated her political leanings. After all, there are right-wing liberals as, for instance, Likud MKs Bennie Begin and Yehudah Glick.
Unless Netanyahu goes ahead with his plan to rehabilitate the Israel Broadcasting Authority, or at least bring about a merger between the IBA and IBC, Kan Radio 88 will begin broadcasting on April 30 with a night-time program similar to that of Reshet Bet’s weekly program My Week in which different journalists present their views interspersed with musical items that relate to the subjects discussed.
Moshe Morad who heads Kan 88 regards music as an essential value and says that the station will broadcast quality music without any news bulletins in order to distance the station from politics and current affairs. Another Kan station that will be geared to news and actuality will give journalists in those fields parallel opportunities to those that will be enjoyed by academics and experts in the humanities who will air their views on Kan 88.
Under these circumstances, it seems that listeners will get to know another side of Neubach.
The program called Why Do I Need Politics Now? will be aired from Sunday to Wednesday inclusive, with a different presenter each night. The other presenters will be Assaf Liberman and Prof. Nissim Calderon, an emeritus professor at Ben-Gurion University where he taught Hebrew literature and multiculturalism.
Each of them will also have a say in the music that will be heard on his or her program.
Meanwhile Even-Saar’s appointment is still making waves.
She actually signed on with IBC in November of 2016, but was not initially considered as the presenter of the main news broadcast. Up until exactly a month ago, the person tipped for the job was Yoaz Hendel who is a former director of communications and public diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office. He is currently the chairman of the Institute of Zionist strategies, and also writes for Yediot Aharonot. Hendel had already done a number of pilot programs for Kan, and the people in charge were pleased with the results.
While no one disputes Even-Saar’s professional qualifications, what makes her appointment questionable is that when her husband was education minister, he appointed Eldad Koblentz, the CEO of IBC to the position of director of Educational Television, a factor that creates the suspicion that Even- Saar’s appointment is a return of favors received.
Meanwhile, if Netanyahu wants to repeal the existing public broadcasting law in order to prevent the IBC from becoming operational, he has less than two weeks to do so before the Knesset goes into recess.
If he succeeds in creating a merger between IBA and IBC, it will mean that each will have to forfeit its title and come up with a new one.
According to reports in the Hebrew media, Netanyahu does not want to hear the word corporation.