Infolive.tv tries to 'balance the unbalanced coverage of Israel'
The television news Web site officially opened its offices in downtown Jerusalem this month.
By STEVE LINDE
A striking redhead with a distinctive Australian accent reports from Jerusalem on Israel's "ineffective response to Kassam rocket fire."
She is Margot Dudkevitch, a former military correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, who is now an anchor for infolive.tv - a television news Web site that officially opened its offices in downtown Jerusalem this month.
Dudkevitch is one of two English-speaking reporters on the site, which purports to be "the largest on-line video news operation in Israel" and broadcasts in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
"We try to give people around the world a picture of what's happening in Israel today," Dudkevitch says, as she sits in her state-of-the-art television studio.
"We report on what we think will interest people abroad - hard news and color stories too."
The Web site (www.infolive.tv) has two news bulletins daily, morning and evening, and features news updates, in-depth reports and "vox pox" interviews with Israelis.
The network opens Wednesday's morning news bulletin with a security cabinet meeting to discuss military action in Gaza; talks to people on the street about the Labor Party primary results; and concludes with an item on an international food fair in Tel Aviv.
Olivier Rafowicz, a French immigrant who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel as international media spokesman in the IDF, is chief executive officer of infolive.tv and believes its mission is "to balance a very unbalanced coverage of Israel."
"The idea was to produce our own videos and then broadcast by Web TV all over the world to present a different view of Israel," he says.
Rafowicz, who has written a book on the Second Lebanon War, says anti-Israel media coverage was especially evident during the conflict last summer.
"I think it was very important to present this war not as an Israeli offensive against Lebanon, but as a new kind of war - between Israeli democracy and global Islamic Jihad," he says. "In this case it was Hizbullah. Tomorrow it could be Hamas or someone else backed by Iran and Syria."
Rafowicz says the network is pro-Israel but takes no overtly political stand.
"We're Israeli. We try to be mainstream, not Right, not Left, not linked to any political party in Israel. We try to bring information as it is generally felt in Israel," he says.
Asked where the funding for the network comes from, Rafowicz replies: "The financing in the beginning came from private investors very involved in Israeli affairs, a group of fewer than 10 people who are French and European. Now there is advertising and we are also selling content."
The network has an agreement with Channel 10 to broadcast news footage, but also has its own cameraman who films reporters on the scene of news events.
The news team has just completed an in-depth report on Antiquity Authority raids in the Beit Shemesh area.
Before establishing infolive.tv, Rafowicz also served as the Jewish Agency's immigration officer in France. He had a recent network scoop by conducting an exclusive interview with the wife of Julien Sofir, a French immigrant suspected of murdering an Arab taxi driver in Tel Aviv last month.
The network says that piece alone got 37,000 hits on its Web site.
"We already have around half a million people all over the world - unique visitors - watching infolive.tv every month," Rafowicz says. "I think nowadays, with the Palestinians in Gaza shooting at Sderot, it is vital for Israel's image to show what we feel and [how we] live here every day."
Dudkevitch concurs. "We try to focus on what people are interested in - the Kassam attacks and IDF operations - but also on an array of other issues. We write our own stories, go out with an in-house photographer, come back and build a video. Today I'm doing a story on missile defense systems."
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