Channel 10 finds a champion in President Peres

President says it is his obligation to defend the freedom of the press, promises to continue supporting the channel.

Channel 10 protest 370 (photo credit: The Tzipi Livni Party)
Channel 10 protest 370
(photo credit: The Tzipi Livni Party)
The beleaguered Channel 10 – which has won a temporary reprieve that finance and broadcasting experts say is merely a delaying tactic until the plug is pulled forever – has found a champion in President Shimon Peres.
The president agreed to an emergency meeting on Monday with representatives of Channel 10’s management and workers, telling them it was his clear duty as president to be among those coming out in defense of Israeli democracy, which includes the freedom of expression.
“There is no true freedom of expression without a full, broad and pluralistic press in Israel,” he said.
Channel 10 chairman Avi Balashnikov thanked Peres for receiving the delegation at such short notice.
This was a gesture that could not be taken for granted, he said, adding that Peres had the appreciation of the family of every Channel 10 employee.
Channel 10 has reached a critical moment of truth, said Balashnikov, and if the Knesset does not approve franchisee legislation that will enable it to continue beyond the end of the year, it will signify its closure.
“We had a tough fight for the future of Channel 10 and you played an important role in that struggle – and this is not the first time we are meeting on this issue,” Balashnikov told Peres. “This is a battle for Israel’s image as a democracy, as a pluralistic state that permits freedom of expression in accordance with the values set down in the Declaration of Independence.
“It is not easy to maintain a newspaper or a television station in Israel at this juncture. Investors are not standing in line. Those who do invest are losing tremendous sums of money and we are subject to enormous pressures whenever we have to enter into discussions with the Knesset or the government.”
Peres again expressed support for the channel’s continued operation, and said his office was in constant contact with that of the prime minister in hopes of finding a viable solution to the problem. He promised he would continue to remain involved.
Michal Grayevsky, chairwoman of both the finance committee on Channel 10’s board and the Nana 10 news service, told Peres that after 18 months of striving to stay afloat, the dismissal of hundreds of staff that had been scheduled for Monday morning was prevented only by the intervention of the president.
“Your backing is of the utmost importance,” Matan Hodorov, chairman of the workers’ committee, told Peres. Freedom of expression is a vital factor for journalists, he said, and pledged that Channel 10 journalists would do everything in their power to continue to give the public complete and unbiased reports.
Underscoring that time is of the essence, he was cautiously confident that Peres’s clear voice would be heard by the legislators who hold the fate of Channel 10 in their hands.