Second Authority backs Channel 10's apology to Adelson

TV channel had issued apology to 'Israel Hayom' owner over investigative report alleging inappropriate business dealings.

Sheldon Adelson 311 R (photo credit: Reuters)
Sheldon Adelson 311 R
(photo credit: Reuters)
After two months of deliberations, the Second Authority for Television and Radio has ruled that a Channel 10 apology in September to American Jewish businessman Sheldon Adelson was “appropriate.”
In an investigative report in January, Channel 10 alleged that Adelson, the owner of the freebie high-quality tabloid, Israel Hayom, had acquired a casino license in Las Vegas inappropriately through political connections. The TV channel later issued a public apology to Adelson for airing incorrect details about his business dealings.
In the apology, the station stated that Adelson had, in fact, been granted the license in Las Vegas legally and without using personal connections.
In September, the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv Journalists Associations jointly appealed to the Israel Press Council, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Dalia Dorner, to convene an urgent meeting to discuss the resignations of Channel 10 News director Reudor Benziman and Ruti Yovel, the editor of the “This Week” program, who quit following the decision by Channel 10 to apologize to Adelson.
The program’s presenter, Guy Zohar, also tendered a dramatic on-air resignation from the program.
An angry Adelson, whose reputation had been sullied, had threatened to go to court, at which point the matter became a complicated legal issue. It also became an extremely controversial topic widely debated in the Israeli media.
Many journalists sided with Benziman and Yoval, but there were some who, in the interests of integrity, argued that if Adelson had been wronged, he deserved an apology.
Adelson, whose wife Miriam was born in Israel, is one of the wealthiest people in the US and a strong supporter of Israel.
In their appeal to Dorner, the executive committees of two journalists’ associations argued that for many years journalists have waged a battle against interference in editorial content by politicians and businesspeople.
In recent years, the appeal continued, such pressures from major players in the business community have intensified.
With all due respect to investors in Israeli media, who have enabled greater competition, there are red lines in the relationship between investors and editorial staff that should not be crossed, according to the appeal.
For all that, the 15-member Second Authority for Television and Radio that regulates commercial broadcasts in Israel – including the parameters of freedom of expression – decided last Thursday after investigating the situation that, although there were some flaws in the manner in which the whole issue of the apology had been conducted, the decision to apologize had been correct and that there was no evidence – despite reports to the contrary – of intervention by the Channel 10 shareholders.
However, the financially ailing Channel 10 remains in danger of closing down.
A front-page story in Haaretz on Monday quoted unnamed senior sources at Channel 10 as claiming that forces within the Prime Minister’s Office, unhappy with the investigative findings of political reporter Raviv Druker, were working toward having him fired.
A hot denial was given to Haaretz by the Prime Minister’s Office.
According to the report, two senior members of Channel 10 received intimations from political figures in the Likud suggesting that the Knesset Finance Committee, to which Channel 10 has appealed for leniency with regard to its debt problem, would be inclined to be more helpful if Druker were to be given his marching orders.
Without a nod from the Knesset Finance Committee, Channel 10 is in danger of folding, which could cause hundreds of people to lose their jobs.
It is doubtful that this is what Adelson wanted to achieve when he insisted on an apology, but there is equally no doubt that Druker and other Channel 10 reporters and anchors have caused no small measure of discomfort to several public figures, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister and his wife Sara have both been presented in a negative light by Druker.
It has been reported extensively that Adelson created Israel Hayom, which employs some of Israel’s most respected journalists, to support Netanyahu and his policies.
Knesset Finance Committee chairman Carmel Shama- Hacohen (Likud), in an interview with Israel Radio’s Yaron Deckel on Monday, denied the content of the Haaretz report and said that he was not aware of any conspiracy.
It was true, he said, that the majority of the committee members were indisposed to helping Channel 10, which is millions of dollars in arrears, but this had nothing to do with Druker or the prime minister.
It would not be such a tragic thing, he observed, if there was one television channel less, but made it clear that he hoped a solution of some kind would be found to save Channel 10.
Meanwhile, journalists at the Israel Broadcasting Authority – with the support of the Jerusalem Journalists Association – have decided to impose a number of sanctions to protest the decision by management to fire 28 TV and radio employees, among them reporter Carmit Rubin, who worked almost around the clock reporting the doctors’ strike, police reporter Efrat Weiss and Mirit Hushmand, who edits the morning “Agenda” program anchored by Keren Neubach.
The union representatives of the journalists slated for dismissal have asked the National Labor Court to issue an injunction against the dismissal notices, which were issued last week without any prior warning.