Cabinet approves Gilat as new IBA chairman

Longtime journalist vows to implement drastic broadcasting authority reforms.

Amir Gilat Peres 311 (photo credit: Josh Freedman)
Amir Gilat Peres 311
(photo credit: Josh Freedman)
At the weekly meeting of the cabinet on Sunday, the government gave its unanimous approval to the appointment of Amir Gilat as chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
The position had been vacant for over a year since the resignation of Gilat’s predecessor Moshe Gavish.
A memorandum of understanding of principles was signed on July 8 between the Finance Ministry, the IBA, the Histadrut Labor Federation, union representatives of IBA employees, and the Jerusalem Journalists Association. The final draft has yet to be signed.
What has primarily delayed the implementation of reforms in the past is the need to drastically downsize the payroll, to determine the criteria for dismissals; and to provide adequate compensation for people of middle age and upward who may find it difficult to obtain employment elsewhere.
Many veteran technicians, for instance, were in danger of losing their jobs due to the introduction of new state-of-the art equipment that would make their positions obsolete.
There was also a need to improve the salaries of the remaining staff.
While the staff situation remains in limbo until the final agreement between all the parties is signed, there seems to be a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel for some of the staff slated for dismissal.
Addressing the Knesset’s State Control Committee last week in his capacity as the minister responsible for the implementation of the Broadcasting Authority Law, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke of the importance of establishing a state-sponsored international news network. Netanyahu enthused about 24/7 separate news channels broadcasting in Hebrew, Arabic and English to television viewers at home and abroad.
Whether Gilat, a seasoned journalist, media adviser and communicator, can turn Netanyahu’s vision into reality remains to be seen.
Gilat’s appointment was officially confirmed by President Shimon Peres last Thursday, and Sunday’s cabinet vote was essentially a formality.
Peres, when presenting Gilat with the written document attesting to his new status, underscored the importance of public broadcasting and asked Gilat to do his utmost to strengthen the foundations of the IBA and to expand the number of programs so the world could get a better and broader concept of the Israel experience.
Gilat pledged to make every effort to complete the IBA’s reforms and to bring the IBA to new heights.
He acknowledged that the authority was confronting the most significant challenges in its history, not the least of which were the implementation of reforms, staying abreast of new technologies, and presenting Israel in all its many facets to the widest possible public.
Gilat, whose appointment was welcomed by the Jerusalem Journalists Association, officially takes up his new position on Monday and will have separate meetings with the television committee, the Arabic committee and the outgoing IBA plenum.
Netanyahu has yet to appoint a new plenum and a new board of management from within the plenum. Only after that happens will Gilat be in the position to discuss the possibility of round-the-clock news channels.