The Communications Ministry published a draft bill on Tuesday that would revolutionize broadcast regulations in Israel, amending broadcast legislation issues while updating the regulations that apply to broadcasters (cable, satellite and internet content providers) operating in the market.
The main recommendations highlighted in the bill:
Making the big timers pay for it
The bill proposes an obligation for broadcasters to invest in original Israeli content production. This means that both local sources, as well as international sources (such as streaming platforms Netflix and Disney+), would be required to reinsert some of their revenues from broadcasting in Israel back into the local production industry.
The reform would take a relative percentage of their income from subscription fees and advertisements, which would be used to fund “a large and diverse supply of quality content that expresses the Israeli language and culture in all its shades,” as the ministry puts it.
This differs from the current situation in which Israeli content providers such as Partner-TV and Cellcom-TV, which broadcast over-the-internet content, are not required to invest in original Israeli productions.
In order to further diversify the range of content in Israel, the bill also proposes that a certain percentage of the investment in local productions will be invested in external producers - organizations that aren’t by the financing entity.
This could significantly impact the range and quality of original Israeli productions, which would join the ranks alongside prior international Israeli successes like Fauda and Tehran.
Broadcasting the news? Anyone could do it!
The bill proposes as a general rule that any broadcaster can broadcast news if it meets certain minimum conditions, as long as the creation of the news is done by a separate corporation from the broadcasting body (in order to minimize news bias and promote independence).
Furthermore, news sources selling their content to broadcasters must offer their product to all at a fair and non-discriminatory price, in order to prevent exclusivity.
Sports fans rejoice! More competition in how you watch your favorite competitions
In order to ensure the accessibility of high-demand or nationally relevant sports content, a list of major sports events will be established that broadcasters will be obliged to offer to their subscribers, without additional payment. Exclusivity for sports content will be prohibited, which will allow fair competition between broadcasters.
In addition, a sports broadcast rights holder selling their product to broadcasters will be obliged to offer them the broadcasting rights on any platform, including mobile devices - which would be especially significant for soldiers.
A shiny new broadcast authority
A new authority would be created to replace the Cable and Satellite Council and The Second Authority for Television and Radio. This new authority would be responsible for regulating the entire field of providing audio-visual content to the public, which is expected to decrease the amount of regulatory interference in the Israeli broadcasting industry.
The new authority would be established as an independent trust unit in the Communications Ministry, and possess a broad view of the market and professional capabilities in the fields of economics and competition.
New price for public broadcast content: FREE ninety-nine! (plus tax)
Content from the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (known as Kan) and the Knesset channel would provide any Israeli broadcaster who wants their content free of charge since the Israeli consumer has already paid for it via taxes.
Time to adjust
In order to mitigate some of the shock from these major changes in the economic model of the broadcast market, a transition period would be established in which the old rules are maintained on cable and satellite broadcasts - streaming platforms would not be exempt, indicating that the Communications Ministry doesn’t want to waste any time collecting from Netflix and Disney.
At the end of 3 years, the separation would be canceled, applying the new rules to the entire broadcasting market.
“We are taking another step in the regulation of the broadcasting market and its adaptation to the current era,” Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel. “After many committees discussing the issue and many reports remaining ‘in the drawer’ for years, today we are moving towards legislation.”