(photo credit: Courtesy)
After all the hype about Broadcasting Authority reforms, all the midnight oil
burnt during negotiations, all the money spent on surveys to determine exactly
what the reforms should be, and all the anxieties foisted on IBA employees who
did not and do not know if they are among the 600 plus people who will have to
disappear from the payroll – it looks as if the reforms have been put on hold,
Implementation of the reforms would cost a
tremendous amount of money that is unlikely to be available anytime soon, given
that the government must now turn its attention to the demands of those citizens
who want to eat cheaper cottage cheese, reinforce the public health system, have
access to affordable housing, find jobs, get free education for their children
and live under a set of new economic priorities.
Confronted with all
that, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is the minister responsible for the
implementation of the Broadcasting Authority Law, has given instructions to the
IBA to divest itself of a considerable portion of its property in order to pay
for the reforms.
The Executive Board of the IBA is now in the process of
preparing a divestment plan, which some IBA veterans are convinced will lead to
the eventual demise of the IBA.
If production studios are sold, for
instance, this will give further justification to those clauses in the reform
agreement that call for a large percentage of productions to be outsourced.
These clauses were inserted at the instigation of the state comptroller who
found that production costs often went over budget because almost everyone was
Outsourcing would do away with overtime payments, but in
the end would also have a considerable affect on the payroll because production
staff would gradually become superfluous and would be dismissed.
production staff, the IBA could not remain true to its mandate to produce
Under the original agreement for getting the
reforms on track, the Finance Ministry was supposed to give the IBA a grant of
NIS 90 million out of a NIS 240m. loan that would be partially reimbursed
through the raising of the levy for broadcasting receivers.
Given the new
economic realties, the levy is not being raised, so there will be no additional
income from that direction.
The only other immediate option for acquiring
the necessary funds is through the sale of IBA assets.
For this purpose,
the IBA has hired a property assayer to evaluate all its property assets, which
are quite considerable and located in different parts of the
This work should be completed within the next few
The executive board has decided in principle to sell off the
Shaarei Zedek property in the capital, which serves as IBA headquarters, as well
as properties in Jerusalem’s Rehov Yermiyahu, plus a property in Haifa, with the
aim of getting the maximum possible price. It was also decided to sell the IBA’s
main studio buildings in the capital’s Romema neighborhood.
taken on Sunday also took into account the possibility of negotiating
compensation for the evacuation of the IBA studios from the Kirya military
headquarters in Tel Aviv. This could result in the IBA being offered either an
alternate site or a monetary incentive.
All this, according to chairman
Amir Gilat, is to facilitate the rehabilitation of the IBA, but if all of the
above happens, there will be almost nothing left of the IBA.
On the other
hand, say some of the IBA veterans, money is tight in most places, and very few
people will be in a hurry to spend such huge sums, with the possible exception
of haredi real estate developers who are building giant residential complexes
all over Romema and surrounds.
Under those circumstances the IBA could
hold out for a really good price.
But if the real estate deals fail to
materialize, say the veterans, there is still hope in the fact that no
government of Israel serves a full term. Given the economic turmoil, it seems
unlikely that this one will be any different, they say. If the government falls,
this could provide a respite for the IBA until a new prime minister comes into