The Second Authority for Television and Radio (SATR) is one of the largest
regulatory bodies in Israel. It is very much a central to the operation of the
country’s commercial broadcast media. With an annual budget of almost NIS 50
million, SATR oversees TV Channels 2 and 10, as well as 16 regional radio
stations which; in turn, these outlets represent a great deal of money, with
requisite economic influence and political interests.
influence, however, is not limited to granting franchises, determining rules and
ethical guidelines for franchise holders and monitoring their performance. SATR
is at the nexus of the move away from a system of licensing towards one that
awards concessions. In addition, it controls the digitization process (the
conversion of media to digital form) by maintaining the nationwide DTT
infrastructure (the “IDAN+” project).
Analog television broadcasts in
Israel ceased in March, 2011; today, terrestrial television is broadcast
digitally only via the IDAN+ network. A third issue is the growth in the
SART is responsible for both protecting and promoting the
public interest. To do so, it supposedly regulates issues such as unethical
advertising, political bias and garbage broadcasting. But SATR work is often
sloppy, shows a lack of attention to detail, and Authority policy has been to
show mercy in cases that could be considered criminal.
So what do we need
the Authority for?
CONSIDER PRIME Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s May address to
the US Congress.
Viewers of Channel 2 news were not only given a
simultaneous translation by Ms. Yonit Levy.
They also got Levy’s personal
Such behavior is not only extremely unprofessional,
but it also violates some of the most basic ethics of broadcasting.
station was flooded with complaints. Dr. Ilan Avisar, SATR’s chairman,
promised a review in June. But five months have passed and we know of no
A rampant illegal practice by Channel 2 News is incorporation
within the news of subtle, and not-so-subtle, advertising content. Eleven months
ago, Israel’s Media Watch pointed out to Dr. Avisar that this policy was also in
violation of the SATR’s 2007 decision forbidding the practice.
nothing was done. Yisgav Nakdimon, the Channel 2 News directorate’s lawyer,
asserted that the director of the news company has the authority to overrule the
SATR council on issues of content. End of story.
A recent Israel Media
report on the satirical program Eretz Nehederet
(It’s A Wonderful Country)
revealed its ideologically biased content.
But SATR ignored it. One
member of SATR’s Public Council, Dr. Dalia Zelikovitz, prepared a separate
report on the rampant practice of implicit advertising on channels 2 and 10. The
report has been lying on Dr. Avisar’s desk for months; it, too, has been
ignored. At another media outlet, the Kol BaRama radio station, unlawful gender
discrimination continues apace, despite our expose on the topic (Rachel is
weeping, published on this page on August 10), has now been condoned by the
SATR, and no regulatory action taken.
EVEN WHEN SATR does wag its finger,
the results are unimpressive. Several years ago, Reshet was fined 10 minutes of
advertising time for producing a “documentary” on how Fox prepares its
advertising campaigns - effectively free advertising for the company, at the
expense of programming time.
Did the fine deter them? They repeated the
performance the following year, and again in 2009.
Even the news
presenters couldn’t contain their smirks. SATR’s punitive action? A
The 2011 State Comptroller’s report confirms that from 2008-2010
SATR’s response to infractions was simply substandard. Sanctions were rarely
applied. Of 60 radio violations, only six (10 percent) monetary measures were
taken, for a total of NIS 172,000. As for television, 336 violations led to 3
(0.9%!) punishments, for a total of NIS 200,000.
The comptroller found
further that the SATR simply did not formulate regulations for fining the
concessionaires. As a result, SATR remained powerless to impose its authority.
The comptroller also noted that SATR failed to fully regulate the
concessionaires’ contractual responsibility to provide quality
SATR’s bureaucrats also developed the habit of delaying the
publication date of its annual reports, making it virtually impossible for the
public council to receive up-to-date information on the concessionaires’ level
So to whom can the individual media consumer complain?
Giora Rozen, the complaints commissioner, officially left his position almost a
year ago, then returned to work on a part-time basis. No replacement has been
appointed. So, the already poor response rate to complaints has suffered.
Furthermore, in his new position as head of Israel’s umbrella organization of
non-profit groups, Rozen is in a clear conflict-of-interest
The groups he represents receive prominent news
The Second Authority has a legal obligation to act on behalf of
the public good as well as assuring the proper nature of the broadcasting
But instead of being the second authority they seem to be at
best, second rate.The authors are respectively the executive director
and vice chairman of Israel’s Media Watch.