A show of interest?

Despite being required to move its news department to Jerusalem, Channel 10 looks set open in Abu Ghosh.

Man carry TV television_521 (photo credit: San Jose Mercury News/MCT)
Man carry TV television_521
(photo credit: San Jose Mercury News/MCT)
It should have been a rare moment of satisfaction, perhaps even of local patriotism and pride. But so far, it seems that yet another layer will be added to the frustration, disappointment and failure involved in the effort to make this city act and feel like a capital should.
“This” is the apparent failure to bring Channel 10’s news department from Givatayim to Jerusalem. In fact, it is even worse, since the law requires the move, so it seems that the final choice the channel owners made to move to Abu Ghosh rather than Har Hotzvim (as they originally wanted) is a painful indication of our city’s inability to be attractive. Here is the story of this failure.
A little more than a year ago, the Knesset decided to give Channel 10, which was on the verge of closure due to financial difficulties, a new chance to hold on and renewed its contract. There was one condition: that the channel move its news department to the capital within a year as required by law. For whatever reason, Channel 10 accepted without discussing the condition further. As a result, on December 3 – that is, within seven months – anchorman Ya’acov Eilon and perhaps a co-presenter should be broadcasting from here.
Well, that is not going to happen unless there is a lastminute change. Channel 10 directors contacted the municipality to find an appropriate location (and to obtain the special conditions they expected) and were quickly referred to the Jerusalem Development Authority. But according to sources at Channel 10, the response to their expectations was disappointing.
At the Hitorerut Party, the news was taken very seriously.
“One of our major concerns since we created this party was to do our utmost to bring more people and opportunities to Jerusalem. This is a very important opportunity, and we can’t afford to just let it go,” says Merav Cohen, No. 2 in the party, who believes that all is not lost.
For its part, the JDA thinks that Channel 10’s move to Jerusalem is important. Mayor Nir Barkat and the JDA tried hard to bring the Channel 10 studio to Jerusalem by offering what they believed to be an attractive package of perks. This included moving the whole operation to Jerusalem, not just the news department.
The package also included a discount in property tax (arnona) and financial support in setting up the new studio, as well rent subsidies for employees who would have to move here. Despite long negotiations between the two parties and the detailed proposal made according to Channel 10’s requirements, the JDA received no response to its proposal.
Besides the proposed reduction in arnona, Channel 10 was expecting more attractive incentives, arguing that the move from the Tel Aviv area to Jerusalem would cost about NIS 50 million (in travel expenses, severance packages for employees who would refuse to move here and, of course, the building and installation of a new, modern and fully equipped studio).
Meanwhile, a new protagonist has appeared on the scene – the Abu Ghosh municipality. The Arab village – which proudly claims to have developed the first original humous in the region – has, over the past few years, managed to offer all the attractions of the Old City without the precarious security situation. What could be better than to host the yuppie-like Tel Avivi Channel 10 news department and thumb its nose at the neighboring big city at the same time? Channel 10 employees began to dream about humous and atmosphere, while the residents of Abu Ghosh began to feel like the new Cinderellas of the region.
And Jerusalem? Well, some people here are still working behind the scenes to try to represent the city’s interests and perhaps a little bit of its honor. After all, we already lost Channel 2 a few years ago when it moved – for financial reasons only – from the JCS studios in the city to the Neveh Ilan compound.
An official statement from the city went as follows: “The municipality, through the JDA, has made an attractive proposal to Channel 10. The municipality regrets that Channel 10 has not responded to these proposals and has learned from the press about the plan to move to Abu Ghosh.
However, the municipality is still trying, through the Television Council, to bring Channel 10 to the city and considers that the issue is still not closed.”
“In the eyes of the law, Neveh Ilan or Abu Ghosh is kosher,” explained a source involved in the affair who requested anonymity. “But in terms of Jerusalem’s interests, it’s a hell of a difference, and the municipality should be ready to do anything, absolutely anything, to bring them here – and a reduction in arnona is a joke.”