Israel's three largest television channels and media corporations united on Wednesday to launch the "Israeli TV Channels Forum" - a joint action forum established in response to Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi's reform which they say will harm the free media in Israel.
"The takeover of the media market has become the government's next target," Reshet 13, Keshet 12, and national broadcaster KAN said in a statement. "Karhi's plan is a prelude to crushing one of the cornerstones of democracy in Israel and allows political control of the media agenda.
"The communications minister seeks to regress Israel to how it was four decades ago, establishing the government's 'content ministry:' A political body that will control the news, the television market in Israel, and the publication of rating data – it is second to none in the democratic world," they continued.
"Karhi's plan is a prelude to crushing one of the cornerstones of democracy in Israel"Israeli TV Channels Forum
What is in Minister Karhi's plan to change Israel's media landscape?
Karhi plans to overhaul the structure of the regulation authority, creating one body with minimal powers that will serve as an independent authority without intervention in content.
The council will consist of nine members - three government officials, a chairman, and five public representatives. Two of the public representatives will be directly appointed by the communications minister, and the others will be appointed by a committee composed of representatives from the Communications, Education, and Justice ministries.
Karhi's reform will favor Channel 14, hurt economy - joint forum
"The expected bill is intended to blatantly intervene in the economic sphere as well, by rewarding specific media outlets – that the government desires to reward – with specified benefits and exemptions from payment," the statement continued, referring to the right-wing orientated Channel 14.
"At the same time, the bill confiscates the rights of free channels, eliminates the local production industry, and severely harms Israeli public broadcasting and the Israeli music industry."
The three channels vowed that, through the joint forum, they "will use all the tools at its disposal to prevent the dangerous move of a hostile takeover of the Israeli media."