Channel 14 fined for excluding Reform, Conservative Jewish content

The Reform movement submitted several requests to Channel 14 to be inclusive in the past.

 Channel 14 workers and supporters protest against Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid outside Tel Aviv Government Complex on October 11, 2022.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Channel 14 workers and supporters protest against Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid outside Tel Aviv Government Complex on October 11, 2022.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled Tuesday morning that Channel 14 violated the anti-discrimination law by not broadcasting Reform and Conservative content. In doing so, the court accepted the claim of the Reform Movement (the Reform Center for Religion and State) and obliged the channel to compensate it for NIS 160,000.

Judge Elad Lang justified his ruling by saying, among other things, that "in the channel's broadcast license, the culture of the Jewish public was defined in all its elements, currents and nuances, and that the channel is a public resource.

On the other hand, the channel claims that "the channel refused to reach a compromise and commit to giving positive coverage and defined screen time to the left-wing Reform organizations. The court ruled that this is discrimination in the provision of services."

Reform movement has struggled against Channel 14 for a long time

The struggle of the Reform movement against the channel has been going on for a long time. In the past, the movement submitted several requests to the channel and the council - and the movement even threatened to go to court on the issue.

 Rabbi Gilad Kariv at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, August 9, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Rabbi Gilad Kariv at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, August 9, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

In addition to this, with the amendment of the law that allowed the channel to broadcast news, it was announced in Walla Baranza that the Reform movement even submitted an objection to the approval, because according to them "the broadcasts on the channel are about the purity of Orthodoxy, and there is no proper combination of Reform, Conservative and pluralistic content."

As mentioned, the criticism of the underrepresentation and coverage of the Reform movement has followed Channel 14 since it was named Channel 20.

In 2017, the Cable and Satellite Council examined the representation of the Reform and Conservative currents on the channel, following public complaints and an investigation that revealed that they were almost completely excluded from the channel's broadcasts. At the same time, the council asked to receive data on interviewees and items that were offered to the channel and rejected in the past.

After the council's inspection and the joint agreement of the chairman of the council at the time, Dr. Yifat Ben Hai Segev, the director-general of the Reform movement Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the CEO of the Masorti movement Yizhar Hess, as well as a management representative from Channel 20 - it was decided that "within a month, Channel 20 will have to give representation for these currents, at a rate similar to their percentage of the population."

On behalf of Channel 14, it was stated in response: "We will appeal against the ruling. This is an unfortunate interference with freedom of expression. It is dark days for a democratic country, in which a court dictates to journalists through fines, what, when and how to cover."

Kariv stated that "the unequivocal verdict conveys a clear message of equality, pluralism and religious tolerance. Disputes and disagreements are an integral part of the Jewish tradition, but discrimination and exclusion cannot be part of the reality of our lives in a Jewish and democratic country. The verdict is clear evidence of the importance of law prohibiting discrimination and the need to protect it from those who seek to set us back decades."