MK Nachman Shai proposes deferring Channel 10 debts

Station's NIS 60 million debt to state threatens to spell its end.

August 2, 2012 22:59
2 minute read.
Channel 10 logo

Channel 10 logo_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

One of the key questions troubling people in the broadcasting industry is whether Channel 10 will be permitted to continue to broadcast in light of its severe financial crisis, or whether it is coming to the end of the road. Channel 10 owes NIS 60 million to the state, not to mention other large sums owed to various creditors, suppliers and employees.

American businessman Ronald Lauder – who has interests in various international media outlets – has a 25 percent stake in Channel 10, and in June of this year eased its financial burden with an infusion of NIS 8 million.

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Whether Lauder will be willing to make another attempt to salvage the financially ailing Channel 10 remains to be seen.

Even if it is forced to pull the plug on itself, closure will cost Lauder a pretty penny. Meanwhile the people at Channel 10 are waiting to hear whether the State Attorney’s Office will give them a one-year reprieve on condition that the debt to the state is paid within that year.

Kadima MK Nachman Shai on Thursday proposed a bill he called “Air to Breathe,” whereby payment of the debts of commercial television stations would be deferred. Shai stressed the importance of maintaining Channel 10 in the hope that the prime minister would become convinced that it was beneficial to the public to have more channels with more programs appealing to the tastes of individual viewers. A choice of channels he said, would echo Israel’s democratic system which includes journalistic freedom, freedom of expression and the right and the need for genuine and open competition.

By curtailing Channel 10 on the basis of its debts said Shai, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz would harm the communications market and add to the nation’s unemployed.

While a shadow hangs over Channel 10, the Israel Broadcasting Authority is finally basking in the light of its long awaited reforms, the agreement for which is scheduled to be signed this coming Sunday in Lod – where the central studios of the IBA will be presently be located – at the Cultural Center.

The signing will be followed by an extraordinary meeting of the IBA plenum regarding the controversial Seder Yom (“Agenda”) program anchored by Keren Neubach.

This matter has also come to the attention of the Knesset.

When Kadima MK Ronnie Bar-On was interviewed on Wednesday by Esti Perez in her lunch time current affairs program B’Hatzi Hayom on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet, Bar- On deviated from the topic of the interview to object to the treatment being meted out to Neubach – on the very station on which Neubach broadcasts.

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