Channel 10 told to repay debt by year's end

Livni slams decision, saying Netanyahu's political considerations behind move.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Knesset Economics Committee rejected Tuesday a proposal to give television broadcasters an extra year to meet debt obligations to the state, effectively giving Channel 10 until the end of 2011 to repay NIS 60 million in debts, or risk closure.
Kadima MK Nino Abesadze’s proposal was defeated by eight votes to five.
Committee Chairman Carmel Shama (Likud), who voted against the proposal, said: “This matter is over and done with. As committee chairman, I will personally work to find a solution that will enable survival in this tough financial period – for the benefit of television viewers, for the welfare of network employees and for the health of the media industry.”
Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) slammed the decision, accusing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of being behind the committee’s decision and labelling it a problem – not just problem for Channel 10, but rather for the entire public.
“Netanyahu, the most devout believer in economic competition, is working to rid the media of political motives,” Livni said in a press statement. “Netanyahu is driven by an ideology that says the media are hostile and that the only way to prevent criticism of him is through threats and through turning the media into his own mouthpiece.”
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the station should be able to stand alone.
“Not everything should be put on the government’s shoulders,” he said, according to Army Radio.
A report in Haaretz on Monday 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 report.
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.
Now that the Economics Committee has rejected Channel 10’s plea, the network is in danger of folding, which could cause hundreds of people to lose their jobs.
Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.