Journalist associations call emergency meeting to prevent demise of public broadcasting

The battle to save the Israel Broadcasting Authority is a battle to maintain free press in Israel and prevent political interference in broadcasting.

IBA logo (photo credit: COURTESY OF IBA)
IBA logo
(photo credit: COURTESY OF IBA)
The Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Journalists Associations have joined forces in an effort to prevent the closure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Fearful that the proposed new public broadcasting service – which is scheduled to go to air on April 1, 2016 – may never actually open, the executive boards of the two associations are vigorously campaigning against plans to permanently close down the IBA the day before, on March 31 of next year.
They say that closing the state broadcasting body will mean an end to public broadcasting in Israel. The two associations have scheduled an emergency meeting of all their members to take place this Wednesday in Tel Aviv in Beit Sokolov.
Hika Ginosar, the head of the Jerusalem Journalists Association, and Rotem Avrutsky, who heads the Tel Aviv Journalists Association, have together called on colleagues throughout the country to join the battle to save the IBA.
The association chiefs said that public broadcasting is integral to a democratic system and that they are fighting to prevent political interference in broadcasting and to prevent the replacing of professional journalists with communicators who merely toe the government line.
With the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, IBA employees remain with an uncertain future. Some have agreed to reforms and early retirement, which would considerably reduce the number of staff, but no arrangements have been finalized yet. The withholding of funds by the Finance Ministry has put a stranglehold on the broadcaster. Telecommunications provider Bezeq is also threatening to pull the plug on Israel Radio, operated by the IBA, over non-payment of fees.
Telephone interviews on the radio station have been routinely disrupted, leading to speculation that Bezeq is deliberately playing havoc with the channel’s communications infrastructure in order to get its message across.
Program anchors report that their on-air telephone conversations are suddenly cut off on an almost daily basis.
Many social welfare issues, which are ignored or receive only passing mention in commercial broadcasting outlets, are covered extensively by the broadcaster.
Its pursuit of injustices by broadcasters such as Carmella Menashe, Keren Neubach, Chico Menashe, Peerli Shahar, and others have often broken through the red tape of bureaucracy and affected change. Many of its employees are over fifty years old and in today’s employment environment are unlikely to find other jobs if they are dismissed from the broadcaster.