'IBA fair in scheduling political interviewees'

Internal probe shows Israel Radio is interviewing politicians on all sides of spectrum after Netanyahu appointments.

Israel Radio, Army Radio_311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Israel Radio, Army Radio_311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Politicians on all sides of the political spectrum are regularly interviewed on Israel Radio, according to a study released on Monday morning.
Amid reports of disquiet and alleged politicization at the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the Knesset’s State Control Committee, led by chairman Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima), decided that the situation should be investigated to determine just how politicized the IBA has become.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s appointments have fanned the flames of politicization after he named Michael Miro as the head of Israel Radio and Yoni Ben- Menachem was elevated to the rank of IBA director-general.
Both are veteran reporters with their own radio programs. Miro prefers to focus on the environment and on social welfare, while Ben- Menachem concentrates on his area of expertise, Middle East politics.
Both have been rumored to be part of the Netanyahu camp. Each has hotly denied that his appointment was politically motivated.
Each has been accused in journalistic and other circles of creating his own political agenda that includes getting rid of or demoting journalists who are identified with the Left. Each has rejected such claims.
At Bar-On’s request, a probe was conducted by the IBA’s internal comptroller, Eitana Gregor, who examined the number of interviews with politicians that had been conducted on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet station during the period January-September 2011. Reshet Bet concentrates on news and current affairs, as well as sports.
Amos Gilat, the chairman of the IBA, delivered the findings to Bar-On on Monday morning.
According to the report prepared by Gregor, during the period July-September, there were three times as many interviews with opposition MKs as there were with coalition MKs.
Out of the total interviews with the MKs during the nine months under review, there were 369 interviews with coalition MKs and 361 with opposition MKs.At its peak, the coalition averaged 33 interviews a month while the opposition scored only 21.
A radical change began in July, with a 30 percent rise in the number of interviews with opposition MKs and a 12% decline in the number of interviews with coalition MKs.
Representatives of every political party in the Knesset were interviewed at some stage.
Fifty-four percent of the interviews conducted with government ministers or their deputies related to their ministries and not to their political parties.
Both Gilat and Ben-Menachem insisted that the IBA operates strictly according to professional criteria and in accordance with the journalistic ethics that were enshrined at the IBA by one of its early icons, Nakdimon Rogel. Rogel was the director of Israeli Radio news in the 1950s and early 1960s, and after the advent of television he wrote a booklet of guidelines as to how the IBA should conduct itself.