IFJ Supports Coalition Protests Over Threats to Public Broadcaster in Israel

The International Federation of Journalists

(IFJ) is backing protest demonstrations in support of the Israeli Broadcasting

Authority (IBA) led by the Jerusalem Journalists Association, a group within

the National Federation of Israeli Journalists, which is an IFJ affiliate.

"Journalists and other media staff are angry

that their working rights are being threatened as well as the rights of Israeli

citizens to an independent public broadcaster," said Aidan White, IFJ General

Secretary. "We fully support our Israeli colleagues because Israel, like any other vibrant and

democratic society, needs public service broadcasting, free of political and

commercial interference. It is particularly important for a broadcaster that

addresses a fragmented audience representing different languages and

communities inside and outside the country."

The IBA faces closure following difficult relations

between staff and management. The crisis at the IBA in recent weeks had

prevented satellite broadcasts and telephone interviews outside the studios.

The broadcaster's problems are compounded by tense relations between the IBA

and the Finance Ministry and other parts of government that consider that public

broadcasting is no longer necessary in the country.

"A public broadcaster is a must if we want to

touch and investigate serious issues without political or commercial

interference" said the newly-elected Chairman of the Jerusalem Journalists'

Association Dany Zaken.

A broad coalition of supporters of the IBA, from

the media, art, politics and civil society movement, recently held

a demonstration outside Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv to protest against the threats

of closure of the IBA. Another

demonstration was held in Jerusalem

in front of the Knesset, with leading parliament members from all parts of the

political map coming out to join and show support. Israeli President Shimon Peres also spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin

Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Ofer Eini, the head of the

Histadrut labor federation in order to find a way of the crisis of public

broadcasting in Israel.


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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125

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