IBA worried about HOT takeover

Cable television company to produce local newscasts.

IBA 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
IBA 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Journalists at the Israel Broadcasting Authority are concerned about recent reports in the financial daily Globes to the effect that various media bodies are encroaching on their territory and are attempting to take over the news broadcasts on Channel 1 and Israel Radio.
According to Globes, the IBA management has been approached by the HOT cable television company to produce the six local IBA newscasts that are currently broadcast via cable and satellite on the community channel (98).
Various regional radio networks and private production companies have also expressed interest in producing them.
This is not the first time that HOT has made an overture of this kind to the IBA. The journalists’ union at the IBA has sent an urgent letter to the authority’s director-general, Motti Sklar, urging him not to take any action on the matter before a final agreement is signed over IBA reforms.
The production crews, in addition to the journalists, feel threatened by the developments. If HOT or any other external enterprise takes over the production of the local news, that company or individual will use their own production teams and not those of the IBA. The number of IBA employees who could lose their jobs under such circumstances has most likely not been included in the estimated number of lay-offs calculated for purposes of the reform.
IBA management is torn between cost efficiency and further erosion in its relations with staff.
The annual cost of producing the six local news programs is NIS 25 million, a sum which weighs heavily on the IBA budget, that for years, has been in increasingly gaping deficit.
It is anticipated that the signing of the final document paving the way for the long overdue IBA reforms will take place some time in August, but before that happens, the journalists want Sklar’s assurance that he will not sign any agreements with outside production companies.
If he chooses to ignore the request, he may find himself back to square one as all agreements leading to the signing of the final document could be cancelled, and the talks between management, the Treasury, the Histadrut, the Jerusalem Journalists Association and elected representatives of the various branches of the IBA staff, could prove worthless.
Then again, the appointment of a new IBA plenum and board of management, coupled with the enthusiasm of recently appointed chairman Amir Gilat, who comes prepared to take on new challenges, may herald a fresh wind of change.