IBA logo 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of IBA)
Members of the classical music and art communities are incensed that a person
without a musical background has been appointed the new CEO of the Voice of
Music, the country’s only radio station that exclusively broadcasts classical,
contemporary and jazz music.
In the first week of January, the Israel
Broadcasting Authority published a press release listing three people appointed
to managerial positions following a decision by the IBA Tenders
Arye Yas, 64, was appointed to head the Voice of Music. His
placement, along with others, was met with dismay from veteran IBA employees and
the executive of the Jerusalem Journalists Association.
Micha Lindentrauss announced last week that he was conducting a probe into the
IBA. He made the announcement after participating in a Knesset State Control
Committee meeting, where grievances were raised over the way in which the IBA
dismisses and appoints its personnel.
A petition addressed to IBA
directorgeneral Yoni Ben-Menachem and IBA chairman Amir Gilat is being
circulated among heads of music academies and conservatories, professional
classical musicians and other leading Israeli personalities, in the hopes to
persuade IBA management to rescind the tender and place a more qualified
applicant in the position.
The initiators of the petition clarify that
they have nothing personal against Yas. They acknowledge that he is a veteran
journalist with experience in other fields of culture – but not in music. They
say Yas never claimed to have any expertise in music, and they are bewildered by
the IBA’s decision to appoint an unqualified person for the job. Yas is not well
known in musical circles.
In accordance with the Freedom of Information
Law, the petition’s initiators want to know why the tenders committee lacked a
representative from the field of classical music. They also ask how the
committee reached its decision to promote Yas, because “he has neither the
knowledge nor the understanding required.”
The petition’s initiators
question how Yas can maintain the station’s standards. This is yet another flaw
in the IBA’s decision-making process, they say.
Some of the long-time
staff members of the Voice of Music are fearful that this will be the beginning
of the end for the station.
They point out that Yas is approaching
retirement age, and under the conditions of the yet-to-be implemented IBA
reforms, he may well be one of the people slated for early retirement. This
could leave the Voice of Music in a vulnerable position with no executive to
defend it against merger or closure.
An attempt was made in 2003 by
then-IBA director-general Yosef Barel to merge the Voice of Music with Reshet
Alef. Barel saw this as a cost-cutting efficiency measure, but the proposal was
met with such opposition that the status quo remained.
It was not the
first time that an IBA director-general tried to cut costs at the expense of the
Voice of Music.
All such efforts have failed thus far because the Voice
of Music was headed by a strong and committed musical personality.
station is cut, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, which receives approximately
30 percent of air time for the broadcast of live performances, would lose one of
its most important outlets for reaching audiences beyond the concert hall.