Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) English television news director Steve Leibowitz came out against a proposal by Knesset Economics Committee head Ophir Akunis on Monday to close down Channel 33 as a cost-cutting move.
Several different cutbacks and reforms have been proposed in an effort to save public broadcasting in Israel. Akunis (Likud) said the IBA should focus on its flagship television station, Channel 1, and close down Channel 33, where a half-hour IBA English News show and Arabic news are broadcast.
“Closing down Channel 33 could save up to NIS 60 million,” Akunis said. “By law, Israel does not need to broadcast English news. But I would be happy if we could shift the IBA English news to Channel 1 and keep it a half-hour long.”
Leibowitz said that what Akunis proposed was “easy to say theoretically,” but unrealistic. He said he was concerned that if Channel 33 closed down, the IBA English News could return to the times when it was only a 9-minute news brief on Channel 1.
“The chances of getting a half-hour in a good time slot on Channel 1 are extremely slim,” Leibowitz said. “It would be extremely sad if we were forced to broadcast for a short period of time in a time slot that would be inconvenient for our viewers. It would make us less relevant.”