Ahead of the expected debate on the amendment to the public broadcasting law that is expected to take place on Sunday, IDI scholars resent a policy statement to legislators calling on them to stop this “unprofessional and shameful” legislative process and to enable the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation to go on air.
In the extensive statement, Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, head of IDI’s Media Reform program, explains that the structure of the news operation in the renewed news corporation is identical to the structure of the current corporation. Therefore, there is clearly no need for this step. She says the purpose of the proposal is to personally harm the members of the corporation’s council, its director-general and the head of its news division, all of whom were appointed through a long and difficult legislative effort. The new structure proposed in the bill will create two bodies that are connected to the other, like “Siamese Twins.”
“These two bodies will create bureaucratic failures, lead to confrontations, waste public funds and negatively influence the quality of the outlet’s content,” writes Altshuler. For example, she notes how the editor-in-chief will be responsible for drafting journalists, but in practice, it is the director-general who will approve the appointments, a process that will lead to complications and political influences over such appointments.
Altshuler adds that the change means cutting the public broadcasting budget by one third and adding additional transition periods, which leaves public broadcasting in Israel in a state of uncertainty.
At the conclusion of the statement, Altshuler tells MKs they should think about the wider public’s interest and not their narrow personal or party interests and not approve the capricious changes and illogical reforms, which were not thought through and are not practical.
“This would cause historic, unfixable damage,” Altshuler says. “It is a blatant example of personal legislation that harms the basic principles of a proper legislative process.”
Click here for full policy statement (Hebrew).
For additional information, call Maayan Hoffman, IDI’s director of international communications, at 050-718-9742 or email [email protected]