Israel: Government shuts down public broadcaster IBA

by Gil Laufer 3,675 views

The Israeli parliament has accepted today the new public broadcasting law, with 45 parliament members for and only 11 against. According to the new law, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, IBA, will shut down and re-open on March 2015. 

The law was accepted after long negotiations between the ministry of economy and the workers organization. It was decided that aleast 25% of the current IBA workers will continue working under the new broadcasting service. In addition, the yearly 345 shekels (75 euros) fee that every Israeli citizen has to pay to IBA will be cancelled.

Gilad Ardan, the Minister of Communications, who led the initation to closing IBA, has announced the plans to shut down the national broadcaster back in March 2014, in a press conference with the Minister of Economics, Ya’ir Lapid. The new national broadcaster is set to start broadcasting on March 31st, 2015, with three different channels: a main channel, an arabic-language channel and a channel for children. The radio service will stay in the same way it is today.

Our people deserve a quality public broadcaster, who is responsible and managed in a proper way. A broadcaster that doesn’t charge fees without a value.  Today, this process got a historical support that will bring back to that great nation what it deserves – the public brodcasting.

The cost of establishing the new broadcaster is estimated to 340 million shekels (around 74 million euros). The total amount of money to be given to the broadcaster during the upcoming two years is 665 million shekels (145 million euros) per year.

IBA did not agree to these conditions and during the process of passing the law, protest messages of the workers were shown on screen during the FIFA World Cup 2014 broadcasts.

Back in May, there was an immediate reaction by the EBU over this matter when the Israeli government announced their plan to close the country’s public service broadcaster in March 2015 and to abolish the licence fee.

The EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre stated

It is deeply regrettable that such drastic steps have had to been taken, […] We shall watch vigilantly as the situation develops in Israel, to ensure that the Landes report’s commitment to public service broadcasting will be honoured.

The shut down of the Israeli public broadcaster brings memories from last summer’s closing of the Greek broadcaster, ERT by the Greek government and the establishment of NERIT (with DT being the transitional broadcaster). Many details are yet unknown about the status of the new Israeli broadcaster and the participation in the Eurovision events. The new broadcaster will carry a new name but it is yet unknown if its membership will be maintained.

IBA has been an active member of the EBU family since 1957, being one of the oldest members of the union.

Stay tuned as will be following closely all the developments regarding the shut down of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority and the formation and opening of the new one.