Scores protest in Tel Aviv to save IBA

Journalists says that while many politicians had come to the defense of the IBA, they had done little, if anything, to implement the IBA reforms.

Close to 100 people demonstrated Tuesday at Beit Sokolov, the headquarters of the National Union of Israeli Journalists and the Tel Aviv Journalists Association, in an effort to prevent the closure of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and to safeguard it from politicization.
Radio and television journalists from the IBA were joined by colleagues from commercial networks and representatives of social groups that regard public broadcasting as one of the symbols of democracy.
Also present were three politicians – Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman, Kadima MK Nachman Shai – a former military reporter for Israel Television and a former chairman of the IBA executive board – and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
Journalists who spoke said that while many politicians had come to the defense of the IBA, they had done little, if anything, to implement the IBA reforms.
It was in this area that the journalists wanted political intervention, but not in the running of the IBA, which they said should be strictly professional and non-political.
Representatives of commercial networks said the IBA should be considered the home of Israeli broadcasting, while IBA journalists noted that advertisers on commercial broadcasting outlets had either a direct or indirect effect on program content.
Shai told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the issue “is all about money.” He and others weren’t in favor of privatization, he said; they just wanted more money from the government and the implementation of reforms in the IBA.
Channel 1 presenter Yigal Ravid said that all of the speakers present agreed that “we need public broadcasting no matter what. There should be reform, the workers should be part of the reforms, and the government should no longer have sole control of the broadcasting authority.”
Veteran Israeli journalist Ya’acov Ahimeir praised the high turnout and said the demonstration “was very important,” but he added that he was disappointed that it seemed to be a sort of “closed-circle” meeting that only brought in like-minded people from the profession.
“I’m asking myself, where are the writers? Where are the academics? Where are the historians? Where are the people who are using the public service to disseminate their views? I didn’t see them, and I’m very disappointed,” he said.
Meanwhile Tuesday, the authority’s executive board endorsed the decision by director-general Moti Sklaar not to approve any pay raises for IBA employees.
The board called on all IBA staff to identify with their place ofemployment and to join in the struggle to ensure that the IBA was notclosed down.
Last week, Sklaar asked people on personal contracts to take a pay cut.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.