The International Federation of Journalists today called upon its global network of unions to support its affiliate in Israel over political interference and staff cuts of up to 1,000 journalists and media staff at the Israeli public broadcaster.
The IFJ is supporting its affiliate in Israel, the National Federation of Israeli Journalists, in protests over government plans to privatize up to 50% of the production budget of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority which would lead to a reduction of almost 1000 employees out of 1800 within the public media.
“These changes are being brought in under the political smokescreen of the newly approved State Economic Arrangements Law,” said White. “There is a danger here that political and commercial interests will overwhelm the public’s right to high quality news and entertainment services”.
A series of ambiguous clauses within the law were inserted to deal with the structure and the budget of the IBA, which would bring the IBA budget under the Economic Arrangements Law and lead to sweeping reforms that could plunge the Authority into crisis.
In particular, there are concerns over recommendations to break up the IBA governing council and to establish a board made up of political nominations. “This is a shocking development that opens the door to political manipulation of public broadcasting in Israel,” said White.
The IBA has already suffered from internal reforms that have seen a formerly diverse organization with more than 3,000 employees diminished into an array of disorganized news and sports departments relying on services provided by outsourcing to private companies.
The IFJ is supporting colleagues in Israeli media who are campaigning for change that will inspire public confidence and ensure public broadcasting plays a key role in the digital era. The crisis comes at a time when major problems are already being faced by public broadcasters in Europe and around the world.
The IFJ has this year backed media staff fighting for public service values in broadcasting in Canada, Great Britain, and across Europe. The Federation’s affiliates in Israel are now considering the next steps to be taken at the IBA. Plans will be put before IFJ leaders when they meet in Sydney, Australia, in December.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries