Likud petition to prohibit politicians' interviews on talk show rejected

In explaining its rejection of the Likud petition, the committee wrote: "Even if ["Ofira and Berkovic"] is not a news program, it deals with current affairs.

Israeli journalist Ofira Asayag (L) and former Israeli footballer Eyal Berkovic at the annual international Municipal Innovation Conference in Tel Aviv, on February 27, 2019. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Israeli journalist Ofira Asayag (L) and former Israeli footballer Eyal Berkovic at the annual international Municipal Innovation Conference in Tel Aviv, on February 27, 2019.
(photo credit: FLASH90)
A petition filed by the Likud Party attempting to block politicians from being hosted on the "Ofira and Berkovic" talk show was rejected earlier this week by the Central Elections Committee, Israeli media reported.  
The committee had recently prohibited the party from broadcasting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's appearance on the popular comedy show "Stand-up Nation," arguing that it considered it propaganda.
The unusual petition was filed by the Likud after the party had learned that MK Yoaz Hendel (Derech Eretz) was scheduled to appear on the "Ofira and Berkovic" talk show, after Netanyahu himself was prohibited from appearing on a show broadcasted by the same network.
In its petition, the Likud wrote that Ofira Asayag and Eyal Berkovic who host the show "do not hide their blunt opinions of the prime minister," and that "Berkovic had recently referred to the petitioner as a criminal organization."
The petition added that "the show in question is not a news program, but an entertainment show," adding that people who hold similar ideas as its hosts receive positive coverage, while "those who support the prime minister and the Likud Party are attacked head-on."
The committee, however, did not accept the claims put forth by the Likud.
In explaining its rejection of the Likud petition, the committee wrote: "Even if ["Ofira and Berkovic"] is not a news program, it deals with current affairs. We believe that due to the practical value that the show provides by interviewing a verity of participants with various opinions, there is no justification for determining that it channels election propaganda."
The committee further noted that the show hosts politicians from different political parties, including from the Likud itself. "The petitioner did not claim that its representatives were rejected from appearing on the show," the committee noted.  
MK Hendel, whose interview with "Ofira and Berkovic" sparked the whole affair, called on Likud members to watch it when it airs.
"I gave an interview at  Ofira and Berkovic, Netanyahu tried to stop it from airing. My friends in Likud, I ask you: watch it," Hendel tweeted on Friday.
"Real liberty never goes against the freedom of speech," he added.