IBA logo 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of IBA)
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss announced on Tuesday he will launch a
probe into complaints about politicization and fear pervading the corridors of
the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Lindenstrauss made the announcement
toward the conclusion of a meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee that
was dealing with labor relations at the IBA.
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Israel’s media archives are
abound with reports about the problematic labor relations at the IBA, and this
was just another chapter in a long saga.
The most recent complaint hinges
on the latest round of IBA appointments, allegedly made without warning or
consultation. In addition, there were complaints from the Jerusalem
Journalists Association as well as from IBA employees that applications in
response to tenders published by the IBA are a waste of time and effort because
the appointments are pre-determined and that the Tenders Committee, which is
supposed to consider each application, is merely camouflage.
confirmed by Haim Zisovich, a former Israel Radio reporter, commentator and news
and current affairs anchor, who sat on the last Tenders Committee and who has
sat on previous Tenders Committees.
The appointments are always
pre-determined, said Zisovich. There was some discussion after meetings
with applicants, he acknowledged, but the head of the radio would then have his
say, after which no one dared contradict him. It wasn’t a majority or unanimous
decision. It was basically his.
Responding to allegations from
both inside and outside the IBA that appointments are politically motivated, IBA
Director-General Yoni Ben- Menachem denied any political interference. Many
tenders had been published and applicants selected without fuss said
Ben-Menachem, but there were certain camps of disgruntled employees within the
IBA, who when something wasn’t to their liking, complained that appointments had
been unfairly made and with some political agenda in mind.
who was appointed half a year ago, was also the target of such complaints, as
was Israel Radio CEO Michael Miro, who provoked a great deal of anger last week,
when he started playing musical chairs with the beats of seasoned reporters, who
in most cases did not appreciate being re-assigned.
Miro’s explanation at
the time was that reporters covering a certain beat for a long time get burned
out and fresh, new approaches are needed. He did not apply this philosophy to
himself. Miro anchors an environmental program as well as a social welfare
program, in which there has been no infusion of new blood in either
Miro insisted that the Tenders Committee operated on a purely
Labor MK Eitan Cabel, who as a
minister-without-portfolio had been responsible for the implementation of the
Broadcasting Authority Law, said the pervasive fear within the IBA was beyond
Kadima MK Nachman Shai, a former IBA chairman and in his younger
years a television reporter, said that while it was legitimate to once in a
while switch people around in their different beats, the way in which it had
been done was questionable. Shai also related to surveys carried out by the IBA
with regard to various national issues, and suggested there might be a conflict
of interests because no one knew who had ordered the surveys or for what
purpose. Thus when the results of the surveys were broadcast, it was possible
they were serving a particular political agenda.
Kadima MK Shlomo Molla
was furious that Tsega Melaku, who three years ago was appointed director of
Reshet Alef, had been dismissed. She was the only Ethiopian at the IBA with
executive responsibility, he said.
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely sprang to the
defense of the IBA saying reporters who were not motivated should not be
continuing with what they were doing. Such decisions were professional, she
Jerusalem Journalists Association Chairman Danny Zaken, who is also
a broadcaster on Israel Radio, said that even in the case of justifiable
appointments, the outcome was known in advance and the Tenders Committee was
just a farce.
This was disputed by Arye Koren, the new CEO of Reshet Bet,
who dismissed all the grievances and said they were just myths.
Hadar, the recently appointed news coordinator concurred, and said it was all
the work of a group that imagined that it had an axe to grind.