(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A year after then-communications minister Gilad Erdan pushed through a law calling to dismantle the Israel Broadcasting Authority and set up another public broadcasting service in its place, the Finance Ministry is seeking to close the IBA at the end of the month.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Amir Levy, budgets director in the ministry, have taken over where Erdan left off, and say that they are unwilling for the state to continue funding the financially ailing IBA.
Ophir Akunis, the minister-without- portfolio in the Communications Ministry, has asked for a three-month extension, during which time the legislation relating to the IBA and its intended replacement is to be amended.
Akunis has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also communications minister, to call an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss the issue and see if some sort of compromise can be worked out.
Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry has softened its stance slightly and now seeks to separate Israel Radio from Channel 1 television, and have the latter operated (and financed) by an external source if such can be found.
That too would require an amendment to existing legislation.
The Treasury has on more than one occasion gone back on its signed agreements with the IBA. Hundreds of people do not know if they will still have jobs in just over a week’s time and whether they will receive severance pay if they find themselves unemployed.
Even under the best of circumstances, according to Eldad Koblentz, the interim director-general of the planned new enterprise, it will take between 12 and 15 months to set up the new public broadcasting entity that is supposed to be more streamlined and cost efficient than the IBA which for years has been operating on a huge deficit.
Earlier this month, MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee, announced at its first meeting that he will summon Netanyahu and Kahlon to a committee session to provide answers with regard to public broadcasting.
Cabel, who was during a previous Knesset term was the minister responsible for the IBA, intends to ask some very tough questions.