Channel 10 logo_311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein sent a legal opinion on Sunday to the Second
Broadcast Authority, saying he does not object to Channel 10’s broadcast license
being extended for another year.
The station, one of two privately owned
television broadcasters in Israel, faces closure over debts of NIS 45 million in
franchise fees and royalties.
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The Second Authority, which regulates
commercial TV and radio broadcasting, is now expected to hold a hearing on
Monday to discuss a request by Channel 10 to renew its broadcasting license
until the beginning of 2013.
The legal opinion, prepared by the deputy
attorney-general for economic and fiscal affairs, Avi Licht, comes a week after
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to
postpone a vote on legislation intended on saving the channel from being closed
due to debts. The move was designed to allow the government to find a solution
to prevent the private broadcaster from being closed.
In December, the
Knesset Economic Affairs Committee dismissed a proposal to permit Channel 10 to
reschedule its debt payments.
Licht’s legal opinion discussed whether
Channel 10 should be allowed to renew its broadcasting license, which has so far
been refused because the channel’s outstanding debts make it
Licht said he had taken into account the fact that some MKs
and government representatives had advocated different solutions to the
However, referencing the 1990 Second Authority for Television and
Radio Law, Licht cited a 1994 High Court of Justice ruling by then Supreme Court
president Meir Shamgar, who said the legislation had an “independent existence
from the day it came into being,” and “the law and the purpose it serves can be
used only as guidelines for its understanding.”
“I am not dismissing
other interpretations of the law in this regard,” Licht said, adding that he was
suggesting an interpretation that left room for the broadcast license to be
extended in this case.
Licht said Channel 10’s “influence on freedom of
expression and the expansion of knowledge is important and worth preserving.”
The channel is known for its often aggressive investigative
However, Licht conceded he thought there were “difficulties
with the fact that Channel 10, which is meant to be independent and
self-managed, sought help over and over again from Knesset and the state to bail
Channel 10 welcomed the legal opinion.
“Reports by the
Second Authority for Television and Radio indicate the channel met all its
commitments and even paid its past debts,” the channel said in a
“We welcome any solution that will enable the channel’s
continued operation while implementing broadcasting license reforms. This
extension of the franchise, as stipulated by the law, until the broadcast
license period comes into force, is the first step.”Lahav Harkov and
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.