Microphone crowd performance audience 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The future of public broadcasting in Israel is in the court of the Wage and
Labor Agreements Department of the Finance Ministry.
Authority chairman Amir Gilat sent out a letter on Wednesday to members of the
He wrote that a final agreement had been signed between the
IBA and the Journalists Association and was waiting for approval from the
Director of Wages at the Finance Ministry.
This is not the first
agreement of its kind, and the ministry has previously refrained from
implementing IBA agreements to which it was one of the signatories.
warned in his letter that unless reforms, which have been the subject of years
of negotiation between the IBA, the Journalists Association, the Labor
Federation and the Finance Ministry are carried out, there will be no
justifiable reason for the IBA’s existence.
The IBA is working out its
budget for 2014, he wrote, but under the circumstances, there is no way that it
will be able to fulfill its obligations to upgrade its technological
capabilities and to focus on more local productions.
One of the reasons
that the reforms were held up for so long, Gilat explained, was because it had
been difficult to find viable, comprehensive solutions, including new wage
agreements, the elimination of some 700 jobs and a program that would guarantee
increased budgets for content and technological advancement.
Finance Ministry approves and honors the agreement, it will simultaneously
dissipate the aura of uncertainty that has been hanging over the IBA and its
employees for far too long, wrote Gilat.
His letter made no mention of
the decision on Sunday by Communications Minister Gilad Erdan to permit YES and
HOT television channels to begin broadcasting news in 2014. The decision still
requires Knesset approval, which if obtained could make the IBA with its low
ratings, even less relevant than it is already, especially if news broadcasts by
cable company HOT and satellite channel YES are in the same slot as Mabat News
and if their news broadcasts are sandwiched between programs that enjoy high
When the public broadcasting service had programs that differed
greatly from those on commercial television, it still had a raison d’etre, but
in its efforts to compete in the ratings war, it has been screening feature
programs and series that are much too explicit in sexual and forensic details,
and would not be deemed suitable for family viewing.
Gilat concluded his
letter by stating that a decision on the fate of the IBA must be taken soon and
he hoped that it would enable it to continue to exist and provide a public