In Hanoi and Beijing, they’re talking about Israel’s public broadcasting crisis, or more accurately why the crisis should not be a pretext for holding new elections. Reporters traveling in Vietnam with President Reuven Rivlin and in China with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were more inclined to report on the broadcasting dilemma and possible election crisis than on bilateral relations.
Rivlin said that the possibility of a merger between the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Israel Broadcasting Corporation is worth examining, but added that the problem should not be linked to politics. Notwithstanding the tremendous importance of public broadcasting in a democracy, he said, it is beyond belief that the government would go to elections over this issue.
But in China, Netanyahu was still adamant that unless the Israel Broadcasting Corporation is abandoned and the Israel Broadcasting Authority is rehabilitated, he will go ahead with early elections. The only compromise that he is willing to consider is a merger between the two.
Early on Monday morning, Kan, which is what IBC calls itself in Hebrew, sent out a press release saying that Geula Even-Saar, one of the hot properties of Channel 1, would be the presenter of the main news broadcast on Kan.
In an interview with Yediot Aharonot in October last year, Even-Saar, 44, then pregnant with her fifth child, Shira,, was asked what she would do if the IBA closed down. “I’ll be on maternity leave, and it will just go on longer,” she replied.
But now there’s something else to consider. Despite the overwhelming objections to early elections, if they do indeed take place, chances are that Even-Saar’s husband, Gideon, a former minister who has been tipped as a possible replacement for Netanyahu, will return to politics. If that happens, Even-Saar may have to resign due to a possible conflict of interests.
This would depend on the dictates of the supervisory council if the oversight legislation which Netanyahu is eager to adopt is passed by the Knesset.
Former prize-winning journalist Rafik Halabi, who is now mayor of Daliat al-Carmel but who in his time was news director of Channel 1, said on Israel Radio that if the oversight law goes through, it will be akin to “having Pravda in Israel.” Halabi declared that “There is no white screen in a true democracy,” placing the blame on the mismanagement of the IBA on the lackeys appointed by successive governments both right wing and left wing. “The IBA should not be closed,” he said, “but it needs a complete managerial overhaul.”
At a press conference on Sunday, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon pledged that not a single IBA employee would be thrown out into the street. “IBA workers are not our opponents or enemies,” he said, adding that they would be dealt with through a combination of early retirement and acceptance into the IBC.
What Kahlon may not know is that in the mismanagement of the IBA, payments into pension funds in some cases fell by the wayside, and the workers who were to benefit from their pensions have discovered that they will be getting far less than they had anticipated, and there is apparently no way to rectify the lacuna.
Channel 1 economics reporter Oded Shahar, who has been covering the Finance Ministry for 38 years, said during the Mabat News on Sunday night that he would like to believe Kahlon, and that he thinks that Kahlon is sincere in his desire to want to help the employees of the IBA who will find themselves without jobs, but like all those of his predecessors who sought to be fair minded and wanted to give workers in different industries their due, he will be prevented by the bureaucrats in his office, just as his predecessors were.
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