The times they are a changin’

Channel 1's 'Mabat News’ will now on at "eight minutes to eight," challenging Channel 2, 10 prime time news broadcasts.

Mabat News anchors Merav Miller, Yinon Magal 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of Channel 1)
Mabat News anchors Merav Miller, Yinon Magal 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of Channel 1)
As of Sunday, the Mabat News on Channel 1 will have a new time slot. It will move from 9 p.m. to 7:52 p.m. or as is announced on its television promos and on Israel Radio, the new time slot will be the slightly catchier-sounding “eight minutes to eight.”
The format will be slightly different with more live reports from more locations around the country. Toward this end, Channel 1 has appointed a reporter for the north of the country. The person hired from among 24 applicants is Ruby Hammerschlag who, until now, had been Channel 10’s reporter for the North, and who was selected for Channel 1 from a short list of four experienced broadcasters.
Contrary to rumor, anchors Merav Miller and Yinon Magal will continue as news presenters.
From a legal standpoint, Miller cannot be replaced because she is pregnant, with her second child.
The 38-minute Mabat newscast will be preceded by a nightly 22-minute sports round-up. For more than quarter of a century, there have been arguments within the Israel Broadcasting Authority as to which is the best time slot for Mabat.
Long before the advent of competitors – including Channel 2, then Channel 10; cable and satellite channels and, more recently, a variety of videotaped news outlets accessible via the Internet – there were people of influence within the IBA who thought the television news should be broadcast as early as 5:30 p.m.
Another school of thought opined that either 6 or 6:30 was better, because that was when families would be gathered around the dinner table. Other opinions centered for similar reasons on slightly later times.
Eventually, the earliest evening news was the IBA News in English, generally broadcast in the late afternoon, and Mabat for many years occupied the 9 p.m. time slot, occasionally giving way to major sports events when it moved to 8 or 8:30.
The new schedule is supposed to give it a six-to-eight-minute edge over Channel 10 and Channel 2, whose main news broadcasts are at two minutes to eight and 8 p.m., respectively.
The time slots are considered to be prime time. In fact, the press release put out by the IBA in relation to Mabat was titled “The Battle for Prime Time.”
But given new technological realities, prime time is what suits the individual. Anyone with Internet access on a mobile phone, a tablet or a computer can choose the time best-suited to them to watch the news, because it’s now available around the clock on the websites of the respective public broadcasting and commercial channels, and these broadcasts are also available on other websites.
This allows news addicts to pursue business or leisure time activities without fear of missing out on the news. That was the case even before the Internet because it was possible to automatically record television programs and to watch them at one’s own convenience.
Still, what the IBA calls “the battle for prime time” will be a lot more than a newscast contest for viewers. The changed time slot also makes way for a series of new programs and the rescheduling and revamping of existing programs, with an emphasis on reality shows.