Amir Gilat Peres 311.
(photo credit: Josh Freedman)
At the weekly meeting of the cabinet on Sunday, the government gave its unanimous approval to the appointment of Amir Gilat as chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
The position had been vacant for over a year since the resignation of Gilat’s predecessor Moshe Gavish.
A memorandum of understanding of principles was signed on July 8 between
the Finance Ministry, the IBA, the Histadrut Labor Federation, union
representatives of IBA employees, and the Jerusalem Journalists
Association. The final draft has yet to be signed.
What has primarily delayed the implementation of reforms in the past is
the need to drastically downsize the payroll, to determine the criteria
for dismissals; and to provide adequate compensation for people of
middle age and upward who may find it difficult to obtain employment
Many veteran technicians, for instance, were in danger of losing their
jobs due to the introduction of new state-of-the art equipment that would
make their positions obsolete.
There was also a need to improve the salaries of the remaining staff.
While the staff situation remains in limbo until the final agreement
between all the parties is signed, there seems to be a ray of hope at
the end of the tunnel for some of the staff slated for dismissal.
Addressing the Knesset’s State Control Committee last week in his
capacity as the minister responsible for the implementation of the
Broadcasting Authority Law, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke of
the importance of establishing a state-sponsored international news
network. Netanyahu enthused about 24/7 separate news channels
broadcasting in Hebrew, Arabic and English to television viewers at home
Whether Gilat, a seasoned journalist, media adviser and communicator,
can turn Netanyahu’s vision into reality remains to be seen.
Gilat’s appointment was officially confirmed by President Shimon Peres
last Thursday, and Sunday’s cabinet vote was essentially a formality.
Peres, when presenting Gilat with the written document attesting to his
new status, underscored the importance of public broadcasting and asked
Gilat to do his utmost to strengthen the foundations of the IBA and to
expand the number of programs so the world could get a better and
broader concept of the Israel experience.
Gilat pledged to make every effort to complete the IBA’s reforms and to
bring the IBA to new heights.
He acknowledged that the authority was confronting the most significant
challenges in its history, not the least of which were the
implementation of reforms, staying abreast of new technologies, and
presenting Israel in all its many facets to the widest possible public.
Gilat, whose appointment was welcomed by the Jerusalem Journalists
Association, officially takes up his new position on Monday and will
have separate meetings with the television committee, the Arabic
committee and the outgoing IBA plenum.
Netanyahu has yet to appoint a new plenum and a new board of management
from within the plenum. Only after that happens will Gilat be in the
position to discuss the possibility of round-the-clock news channels.