Ch. 10 to get 1 more hearing on debt payment

"Closure of the channel will be social and economic bankruptcy," president tells station employees.

Channel 10 logo_311 (photo credit:  Courtesy)
Channel 10 logo_311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Financially stricken Channel 10 could receive an unexpected lifeline Thursday, after the chairman of the joint Knesset Economics and Education Committee agreed to hold another hearing on the station’s debt payments.
“Every opportunity must be given to save Channel 10,” MK Carmel Shama- Hacohen (Likud) said Wednesday, responding affirmatively to the request from Labor MK Eitan Cabel to hold another hearing on the matter.
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Last week, the Economics Committee voted eight to five against a Channel 10 request to postpone by a year the payment of NIS 60 million in royalties and franchise fees it owes to the state.
Prior to that vote, Shama-Hacohen called Channel 10 “a weak economic entity that requires the government’s assistance,” and said his committee should not be seen as “an emergency fund.”
President Shimon Peres said Wednesday that he sees the struggle for the future of Channel 10 – which is in danger of closing next month if the committee does not approve the postponement – as a struggle for the democratic character of Israel.
Peres met with Channel 10 representatives, and said: “Democracy is expensive, but the closure of the channel will be social and economic bankruptcy… It’s not just the livelihood of 1,000 people that it will hurt, it will weaken the entire media.”
Channel 10 executive-director Yossi Varshabsky, director of news Uri Rozen, and journalist Moti Kirschenbaum attended the meeting.
Peres said he was concerned that if domestic media were harmed, youth would turn to foreign outlets as an alternative.
“They will go to the Internet, read foreign newspapers, and not know what is happening in this country,” he said.
The Economics-Education Committee will discuss the matter Thursday, alongside a proposal from MK’s Zeev Elkin and Zion Pinyan (Likud) to write off the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s 2011 debts.