IBA English news will stay on the air

Management extends grace period for foreign language programs.

eitan cabel disapproves (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
eitan cabel disapproves
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Israel Broadcasting Authority's Management Committee has extended the grace period for the administration and union workers to reach an agreement on cost-cutting efficiency measures, but made it clear that for as long as there is public broadcasting, foreign language programs will remain on the air. Only a few short weeks ago, all foreign language broadcasts with the exception of Arabic, which is Israel's second official language, were under threat of closure. Hundreds of readers signed an online Jerusalem Post petition against taking the English news on TV and radio off the air. However, of all the cost-saving suggestions that have come to the fore, the IBA Management Committee came to the conclusion that it was completely unacceptable to close broadcasts on which large numbers of the immigrant population, not to mention diplomats and overseas listeners, rely. Because the administration and the unions have not yet found the key to a modus vivendi, the Management Committee decided to give them yet another few days to come up with a formula that is acceptable to all sides. If they don't, IBA spokeswoman Linda Bar told The Jerusalem Post, "there will be no salaries paid in August. The ball is in the court of the unions." Whatever agreement is reached, she said, would pave the way for the implementation of the sweeping reforms proposed two years ago by the Dinur Commission. These reforms include changing the structure of the IBA, significantly reducing the staff load, outsourcing non-news productions and weakening political influence on the IBA. However, no one is holding their breath over the Dinur reforms because whoever is appointed to succeed Eitan Cabel as minister responsible for the Broadcasting Authority may have different ideas and the whole merry-go-round could start all over again as it has done in the past. The essential difference is that this time, the IBA's sources of income have been severely depleted due to heavy reductions in license fees. According to news reports on Israel Radio, none of the potential ministerial candidates in the Labor Party is interested in picking up the IBA portfolio, and if anyone is forced to take it under duress, this will not bode very well for the IBA.