A law changing the structure of the new Israel Broadcast Corporation’s news division is expected to pass on Wednesday, in an accelerated legislative process beginning Tuesday.The bill came after months of debate between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, which nearly led to an early election. Netanyahu sought to keep the Israel Broadcasting Authority intact and prevent the IBC from being launched, complaining that the IBC is biased against him, whereas Kahlon said too much public funding had already been invested in the IBC to let it go to waste.The two reached a compromise earlier this month, by which the existing IBA would run the IBC’s news division, and the head of the news division would be chosen by a committee headed by a retired judge.
The coalition is in a rush to pass the amendment, as the current law states that on April 30, the IBA will cease to exist and be replaced by the IBC. If the new bill passes, the IBC will go on the air on May 15.On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill.The Israeli Journalists’ Council said that the bill would cause serious harm both to public broadcasting and IBA and IBC journalists.“This move is unjustified and has no logical explanation, will certainly weaken journalism in public broadcasting, bring in an era of instability and harm the journalistic services the public will receive,” the council’s statement said. “The bill reeks of personal legislation meant to chop off heads and harm the managers of the IBC, fire its justly appointed news manager and create a chilling effect on all journalists in public broadcasting.” The IJC called on MKs to vote against “the destructive bill” and allow the IBC to begin broadcasting as planned, and for as many IBA journalists as possible to be hired by the IBC.On Monday afternoon, Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissenkorn and Finance Ministry director- general Shai Baavad signed an agreement by which, when the IBC begins broadcasting, 65% of its employees would be from the IBA, and all IBA workers aged 40-50 would get jobs in the IBC or Civil Service. In addition, the IBC will not use outsourcing, and those who choose early retirement will receive better pension conditions.
Israel Broadcasting Authority ( IBA ) staff in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv protest against closure, on March 19, 2017 (credit: REUTERS)