IBA's Channel 33 to broadcast new English-language current affairs program

Only a few months ago, the IBA News, the English language television service of the Israel Broadcasting Authority was in danger of being taken off the air or at least having its staff and air time reduced as part of the IBA's cost cutting. But now the opposite has happened and the IBA News is expanding to include a new weekly current affairs program tentatively titled Close Up that will be anchored by Steve Leibowitz and Leah Zinder. Although the program will have a largely political emphasis, Leibowitz told The Jerusalem Post, it will, as time goes by, focus on a major issue of the day be it political or otherwise. It will feature studio guests discussing stories supplied by field reporters. For the foreseeable future, said Leibowitz, the program will be broadcast from Jerusalem without intercuts from elsewhere, though the subject matter will deal with issues affecting any and every place in the country. Leibowitz approached the IBA management with the idea explaining that because English is the most universal of languages, it was increasingly important to have news and views in English coming out of Israel, especially from a public broadcaster. To his surprise, his proposal was warmly accepted. Moreover, conditions for members of his staff have improved dramatically, with several freelancers receiving permanent employment contracts. The new half hour program will debut on Channel 33 on Wednesday, immediately after the IBA News, which means that it will go to air at approximately 5:20 p.m.