The Israel Broadcasting Authority, which has been walking a financial tightrope for several years with repeated threats of closure spurred by growing deficits, has once again won a reprieve.
Doomsday broadcasts on Israel Radio on Thursday indicated that without some kind of a miracle, the days of public broadcasting in Israel - at least as far as the Israel Broadcasting Authority was concerned - were numbered.
Announcers explained that due to an impasse between the IBA and the Treasury, IBA employees would not receive their salaries. The Treasury, it was reported, was unwilling to make an advance on salaries without some sign of the beginning of the implementation of reforms that call for mass dismissals. But the decision-makers at the IBA said that until they could be assured that employees could be let go with dignity, they would not introduce the reforms.
The broadcasts informed listeners that IBA workers would mount an emergency meeting and also noted that Isaac Herzog, the minister responsible for the IBA, was making strenuous efforts to reach some kind of compromise with the Treasury, in the hope that the immediate problem could be resolved that evening.
In the final analysis an agreement was signed with the Treasury on Thursday night by Eran Horn, the IBA's deputy director-general for finances. The agreement enables the transfer of interim funds needed to pay IBA salaries till the end of the year.
IBA officials commended Herzog as well as MKs Gilad Erdan, Stas Misesznikov, Haim Oron and others for their valuable advocacy.
IBA Chairman Moshe Gavish expressed appreciation to the Treasury's Budgets Division and to the accountant-general for their willingness to cooperate, and their help in easing the situation. Gavish interpreted the support of all concerned as a sign of confidence in the IBA, its employees and in public broadcasting, and pledged that if the IBA management fails to reach an agreement with employees in the next three-to-four months, the Treasury would be entitled to reimbursement.
Now that the agreement has been signed, the Treasury will lodge a request with the Knesset Finance Committee for immediate transfer of funds.
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