In preparation for the Knesset vote on Tuesday on the fate of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), leaders at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) have submitted a policy statement to ministers and MKs calling on them to vote against the amendment so as not to participate “in this campaign of revenge and inappropriate personal legislation.”
According to the statement, “The newly proposed arrangement is but a mirror image of the existing structure of the IBC. The goal of these changes is to personally harm the IBC’s board members, director general and news director, who were duly appointed."
In the statement, IDI leadership further asserts that the arrangement will cut about one-third of IBC’s news and current events production budget and simultaneously push off the launch of the IBC by another three months, which past experience has proven neither realistic nor feasible.
Moreover, since there is no intention of amending the current budgetary framework, it is reasonable to assume that the redundancies of roles, as well as the financial fruits of sponsorships and commercials that will not be transferred to the news corporation, will ultimately produce a weak and dependent news organization. According to IDI, the opportunity to establish a new, well-funded news division is one of the most promising elements of the Public Broadcasting Corporation Law. In contrast, this latest amendment is damaging in a significant and absolutely unenforceable way.
Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, Director of IDI’s Media Reform Program, said, “This new organizational structure – Siamese twins, connected but yet disconnected – is not achievable and creates bureaucratic and functional problems for both corporations, while wasting public funds."
Shwartz Altshuler adds that it is incumbent on those who are charged with voting on the amendment to make the right decision, a decision which could have historical significance for public broadcasting in the State of Israel. She called on ministers and MKs to consider “broad public interests and not narrow personal or party interests. Do not allow for the implementation of capricious changes and irrational reforms that are neither well thought out nor practical. Rather, these proposed amendments create the feeling that this is a path of vengeance rather than a path toward a needed correction. Surely, this is something of which you do not want to be part.”
Yohanan Plesner, IDI president, said, “The approval of the new plan will signify the loss of a historic opportunity to create independent and quality public broadcasting in Israel. Every Israeli understands that this ‘transitional’ news body will end up being around for a lot longer. Therefore, we must ensure that during this supposed transitional period, a structural separation between IBC journalists and politicians is established.”
This table shows the extent to which the new body, which will be called the "Public News Corporation," is identical in all its characteristics to the IBC, with regards to:
• Description of corporation's function
• Appointment of subcommittees
• Submission of reports, and
• Termination of office.