Opposition leader Tzipi Livni 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Knesset Economics Committee rejected Tuesday a proposal to give television
broadcasters an extra year to meet debt obligations to the state, effectively
giving Channel 10 until the end of 2011 to repay NIS 60 million in debts, or
Kadima MK Nino Abesadze’s proposal was defeated by eight
votes to five.
Committee Chairman Carmel Shama (Likud), who voted against
the proposal, said: “This matter is over and done with. As committee chairman, I
will personally work to find a solution that will enable survival in this tough
financial period – for the benefit of television viewers, for the welfare of
network employees and for the health of the media industry.”
Leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) slammed the decision, accusing Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu of being behind the committee’s decision and labelling it a
problem – not just problem for Channel 10, but rather for the entire
“Netanyahu, the most devout believer in economic competition, is
working to rid the media of political motives,” Livni said in a press statement.
“Netanyahu is driven by an ideology that says the media are hostile and that the
only way to prevent criticism of him is through threats and through turning the
media into his own mouthpiece.”
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that
the station should be able to stand alone.
“Not everything should be put
on the government’s shoulders,” he said, according to Army Radio.
report in Haaretz on Monday quoted unnamed Channel 10 sources as saying that
forces within the Prime Minister’s Office, unhappy with the investigative
findings of political reporter Raviv Druker, were trying to have him
The PMO denied the report.
According to the report, two
senior members of Channel 10 received intimations from political figures in the
Likud suggesting that the Knesset Economics Committee, to which Channel 10 had
appealed for leniency with regard to its debt problem, would be inclined to be
more helpful if Druker were given his marching orders.
Now that the
Economics Committee has rejected Channel 10’s plea, the network is in danger of
folding, which could cause hundreds of people to lose their jobs.
Fay Cashman contributed to this report.