Deal paving way for IBA reforms finally signed

The agreement will increasingly clear the way for IBA reforms – and the massive downsizing of its payroll.

IBA 58 (photo credit: Courtesy)
IBA 58
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The last of the collective agreements among the Finance Ministry, Israel Broadcasting Authority, Histadrut and union representatives within the IBA, was signed on Thursday night. The agreement will increasingly clear the way for IBA reforms – and the massive downsizing of its payroll.
What still remains before the implementation of the reforms is the passing of amendments to the Broadcasting Authority Law – which have already passed their first reading.
IBA’s Arabic Internet site attracts readers across Mideast
IBA finally completes wage agreements enabling reforms
At a general meeting of the Jerusalem Journalists Association last week, people at the lowest end of the wage scale were told that their salaries would improve. However some of these same people are also on the list for dismissals, which would only improve their severance pay.
It was also noted that the amended IBA Law will be worse than the existing one.
At the same time the JJA was meeting, veteran, prize-winning producer and director Doron Tzabar – who made the documentary “A Guide to Revolution,” which deals with the politicization of the IBA – was addressing students at Netanya Academic College.
Tzabari, who for years has waged a battle against the politicization of the IBA, said that the new law would force IBA broadcasters to serve the interests of the government more than the interests of the public.
According to Tzabari, there is an opinion-making network in Israel that constantly succeeds in hoodwinking the public.
Indeed, Tzabari claimed in Israel there is no such thing as genuine public broadcasting – even though the public broadcasting network is supposed to act as the public’s watch dog.
Tzabari said the media has become so obsessed with ratings, that it has forgotten what its role should be.
On the other hand, IBA Director-General Moti Sklaar defended the rights of all journalists – irrespective of their religious or political orientation – to act in accordance with their conscience.
Sklaar, who has been attacked for allowing too much strident, left-wing opinion on Israel Radio, said he never specifically tells broadcasters what to say – and gave examples of broadcasters identified with the right, who have equal freedom.
Still, his critics contend that the views of the national religious sector are not sufficiently represented.
In a different matter, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is the minister responsible for the implementation of the Broadcasting Authority Law, tried to easeout the Draconian law that forces everyone with a radio or television to pay a licensing fee. Revenues raised from the fees go into the IBA’s coffers.
The public sees no reason why it should pay a levy that benefits the IBA – especially since Israel Radio has revenue from commercials, and television from sponsorships.
For a period, Netanyahu was able to reduce the levy, and said he hoped to abolish it. But now the issue of the levy is being reversed – and in all probability, will be higher than it was before Netanyahu stepped in.
Meanwhile, several hundred people employed by the IBA are waiting to see if and when the axe will fall, forcing them to join the ranks of the unemployed.