The plan to defund state-funded KAN, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC), has been indefinitely postponed, a representative of Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said Thursday.
Karhi first put forward the proposal to shut down KAN last month, saying he believed that “there is no place for public broadcasting in the State of Israel.”
The plan has been postponed “until further notice” so that the government can focus its efforts on passing the much-disputed legal reforms instead, the representative said.
Karhi was originally set to present his plan to the public next Tuesday, but it was not clear whether this will happen. The plan likely will not advance until after the legal reforms have passed.
Karhi spoke about the subject in the past at a conference at Reichman University, saying that “the liberal economic concept of the Likud and the economic Right is to remove barriers, regulation and factors that harm the free market and competition.”
“When there is one player who receives millions of shekels a year, including the various councils, this constitutes a significant barrier to competition,” he said. “New players find it difficult to cope with the ability of a big player who receives huge budgets.”
Karhi intends to make a sweeping budget cut in all of the IPBC departments, according to reports last week. The reports prompted an “emergency conference” on Sunday, hosted by the Union of Journalists in Israel, with many of Israel’s top journalists and media executives in attendance.
The union rejected the claims that the government was delaying the move.
“In recent weeks, we have seen a new spin every day,” the union said in a statement. “The fight to prevent damage to the public broadcasting service will continue with full force until Minister Karhi announces, in his own voice, that he is shelving the plan to end public broadcasting.
“Only those who see the free media as an enemy convey messages to them through a third party. We demand that the prime minister and communications minister announce that they are stopping any attempt to interfere in the work of journalists. We will not allow harm to the freedom of press, creativity and thought,”
National Unity MK Orit Farkash-Hacohen said the announcement was a “smokescreen.”
“The government’s announcement about retracting the plan to close the public broadcasting service is a tactic – a smokescreen by a dangerous government aimed at weakening the protests, which are growing and strengthening,” she wrote on Twitter.
“The plan’s steps: First we will crush the rule of law and then continue on to the free press and dealing with the public broadcasting service,” Farkash-Hacohen wrote.