(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Jerusalem Journalists Association is mounting a protest demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday in the aftermath of a meeting on Wednesday between representatives of the JJA, Israel Broadcasting Association workers’ unions and Prime Minister’s Office director-general Eyal Gabai, who has temporarily been given responsibility for implementation of the Broadcasting Authority Law, following the resignation of Minister for Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein.
JJA chairman Danny Zaken says that this time he finds it difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel.
Although the journalists at the IBA could probably reach an accommodation with management and with the Finance Ministry he says, the situation with the IBA technicians is much more complex and much more difficult to resolve.
At the meeting, Gabai hinted more than once that public broadcasting does not have to be in the domain of the IBA, said Zaken, adding that this is great cause for concern.
Gabai also made it clear that negotiations cannot drag on indefinitely, and that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has determined that the deadline for concluding an agreement is immediately after Pessah.
The battle has now intensified from the implementation of reforms and the safeguarding of public broadcasting to actually preserving the existence of the IBA.
Despite Gabai’s implied threat to close down the IBA, there is a general realization that there is no other body to take over public broadcasting, with the possible exception of Educational Television, which has enough budgetary problems of its own.
To close down the IBA would be tantamount to cultural suicide, not to mention that it could cost Netanyahu many votes in the next elections, because no one associated with the IBA or their immediate relatives would be likely to vote Likud.
If the government decides to close down the IBA, it will have to shell out millions of shekels in severance pay to well over a thousand employees.
On the other hand, the property owned by the IBA is worth a fortune,
and the major part of the IBA’s property in Jerusalem is located in the
largely haredi Romema neighborhood which is developing rapidly, and has
in recent years become gentrified. In Tel Aviv, the IBA’s sprawling
complex has even greater potential for real estate developers.