Knesset to save Channel 10 in expedited vote

Labor head Yacimovich says Netanyahu trying to silence media, plans to propose bill to help newspapers.

Channel 10 protest 370 (photo credit: The Tzipi Livni Party)
Channel 10 protest 370
(photo credit: The Tzipi Livni Party)
The Knesset will vote Thursday on a bill to help Channel 10 continue broadcasting past December 31.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to call an emergency meeting, despite previous declarations that no Knesset votes would be held until after the January 22 election.
The legislation on Channel 10 will be based on an agreement made between Prime Minister’s Office director-general Harel Locker and the channel’s management more than two weeks ago.
According to the proposal, the state would extend Channel 10’s license by two years and loan it NIS 65 million, enabling the channel to repay its debts.
The network was expected to close at the end of the year, leading to protests and angry declarations from opposition parties, before Netanyahu decided to back the agreement.
The bill will be put through an expedited legislative process, with all three votes in one day, and is likely to pass.
The Knesset will also vote on continued funding over the next six months for local news services, which faced closure for budgetary reasons.
On Wednesday, Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich called a press conference to condemn the “fatal blow to democracy” following the delay in the Channel 10 deal and announcements of major cuts to Channel 2 News.
“This is a disaster that the public and the media cannot tolerate,” Yacimovich said. “An agreement could have been made long ago. Locker reached deals with all of the ministries, but the prime minister actively prevented it from being put into action.”
According to Yacimovich, the lesson learned is that Netanyahu wants to silence the media, and torture it until it does not publish investigative reports.
“This is not how a democracy is run,” she declared.
Yacimovich also praised the Channel 10 workers’ union, led by economic reporter Matan Chodorov, saying that it proves unions are not just against their workplace and know how to help and support.
The Labor leader presented a bill she plans to propose to help newspapers survive. The legislation consists of several measures, including lower National Insurance payments for journalists, lower VAT on printing supplies, and a weekly “critical reading” class in elementary schools, in which students will read newspapers.
In addition, the bill proposes that the Defense Ministry commit to buying each soldier leaving IDF service a year’s subscription to the newspaper of his or her choice. Similar legislation was passed in France, for high school graduates.
Also on Thursday, the Knesset will accept Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation from the cabinet, as well as that of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, as required by law. Immediately afterward, Netanyahu will be sworn in as foreign minister and Ayalon will be declared his deputy.
In addition, former Labor MK Yoram Marciano will be sworn back into the Knesset, following Amir Peretz’s resignation from the legislature and move to The Tzipi Livni Party.
Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.