Public broadcast compromise approved in first reading

Politicians on the opposition say Netanyahu is trying to make a news broadcast that will be more favorable to him.

SHOW US the money. Lawmakers attend a preliminary vote on a bill at the Knesset (photo credit: REUTERS)
SHOW US the money. Lawmakers attend a preliminary vote on a bill at the Knesset
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset approved the public broadcast bill in a first reading in less than half an hour Thursday evening.
The opposition kept its promise to boycott the proceedings, though coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) was prepared for any tricks and told all coalition lawmakers to be available in case the opposition showed up in full force.
The opposition boycott was meant to embarrass the coalition and was organized in protest, because the MKs argued that the accelerated process in passing the changes to the structure of the nascent Israel Broadcasting Corporation is undemocratic.
The only speeches were by coalition members, mostly from the Likud, and they only very briefly mentioned public broadcasting, instead opting to discuss the new Hamas policy document, Yesh Atid’s ethics problems and more.
The bill in question will have the IBC’s news division run by the existing Israel Broadcasting Authority and remove the current news director. A new one will be chosen by a committee led by a retired judge.
The IBC’s launch date was set for May 15 by a vote in the Knesset last week.
The changes followed a coalition crisis, during which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon could not agree on the transition from the Israel Broadcasting Authority to the IBC.
Netanyahu said the IBC’s news department is biased and wanted to stop it from going on the air, while Kahlon said it would cost too much to not proceed.
Opposition politicians say Netanyahu is trying to shape a news service that would be more favorable to him, something that more than one Likud MK has admitted.