Channel 10 request to delay debt repayment rejected

The Knesset Economics Committee votes 8 - 5 in favor of rejection; Channel 10 to close unless it can repay debt by end of 2011.

party leaders netanyahu livni yacimovich 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
party leaders netanyahu livni yacimovich 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Knesset Economics Committee on Monday rejected Channel 10's request to extend the due date for its debt repayment to the state.
Channel 10 had requested that it be allowed to postpone its debt repayment by one year. The Economics Committee rejection means that the Channel will likely be closed down if it does not repay its NIS 60 million debt by the end of 2011.
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The committee voted 8 in favor of rejecting the petition, 5 against.
At the opening of the committee's discussion, MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen attacked channel 10 for its failure to repay its debt, saying "Channel 10 is a weak economic entity that requires the government's assistance. Such an organization can not be a guard dog for democracy. It is maximum a poodle." He added that the committee "broke records in pushing off this decision but the Economics Committee is not an emergency fund."
Political party representatives in Israel expressed outrage over the committee's decision to deny Channel 10 an extension. Labor head Shelly Yacimovic stated Monday that "a communications market with only one commercial channel, and only one news organization- the fate of which is itself uncertain- is a communications market that is without competition and free press."
The committee's decision could result in the loss of jobs for Channel 10's employees. A Kadima press release Monday stated that "today Netanyahu threw hundreds of families to the streets that have now lost their primary source of income."
The press release also stated that "Netanyahu's closure of Channel 10 was political", and added that "this is an unfortunate decision, one of vindictiveness, the closing of a personal vendetta at the expense of the public and democracy."
A November report in Haaretz quoted unnamed Channel 10 sources as saying that forces within the Prime Minister’s Office, unhappy with the investigative findings of political reporter Raviv Druker, were trying to have him fired.
The PMO denied the claims.
According to the report, two senior members of Channel 10 received intimations from political figures in the Likud suggesting that the Knesset Economics Committee, to which Channel 10 had appealed for leniency with regard to its debt problem, would be inclined to be more helpful if Druker were given his marching orders.
Nadav Shemer contributed to this report