Channel 10 lays off 150 employees, future unclear

Board of directors make decision after meeting over debt repayments.

Channel 10 logo_311 (photo credit:  Courtesy)
Channel 10 logo_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Channel 10’s board of directors decided Tuesday afternoon to lay off 150 workers after the previous night’s meeting over its debt repayments to the state ended without resolution.
Last week, management agreed to Histadrut labor union chairman Ofer Eini’s request to delay the layoffs in order to allow more time for the matter to be discussed.
A group representing Channel 10 employees immediately rejected the latest decision, instructing members not to accept their dismissal notices and not to attend any hearings to which they are summoned.
The group said only two options existed: Either no employees would be laid off, or there would be “collective layoffs and a network blackout.”
Channel 10’s future remained up in the air Tuesday, as the previous night’s meeting between network management, shareholders, Eini and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz failed to produce a breakthrough.
Steinitz reportedly drew fire from the others for releasing a media statement announcing his position shortly after the meeting began. In the statement he announced that he would advise Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon and the Second Broadcasting Authority to grant Channel 10 another two months to pay off NIS 45 million in debts, with the aim of seeing if a debt restructuring agreement can be reached.
According to the Treasury, Steinitz “sees importance in the existence of a range of free-to-air television stations, something which contributes to pluralism and to democratic values. At the same time, [Channel 10] must meet its debt repayments and its obligations to the State of Israel and its citizens, in accordance with the law.”
The SBA, which regulates commercially operated television and radio broadcasts, recently decided to withdraw Channel 10’s financial guarantees by September 2. Such a move could result in the network’s closure.
Eini called Steinitz’s offer “a deceptive move that will lead to worker layoffs and the immediate closure of the station,” in a statement issued following Monday’s meeting.
On Tuesday, the labor union chief met with worker representatives from the network in order to discuss their next steps.
Also on Tuesday, Channel 10 was expected to begin broadcasting two videos in primetime under the slogan “Everybody knows that Channel 10 must not be closed!” In one of the videos, the voiceover says Kahlon knows the network must not be closed. It presents a quote from last year in which Kahlon said that everything must be done to ensure Channel 10’s continued operation, so that those who cannot afford cable television or theater tickets still have an accessible avenue of entertainment.
The other video counters claims that the public does not care about the network’s potential closure. It presents a recent poll from research institution Maagar Mochot which found that 73 percent of Israelis believe in the importance of allowing Channel 10 to continue to operate.