The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the decision of the Israeli government to shut down the public broadcast service, Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) TV station, on 11 May after 49 years of service.
Reports said that the measure is part of the changeover to replace the IBA TV station with a new publicly funded entity known as “Kan”, which is expected to go on the air next Monday. The authorities justified the measure, saying that IBA was “too bureaucratic, expensive and had more employees than needed.”
However, according to media reports, the wider public supported the streamlining of the IBA but not its complete shutdown of IBA while critics dismissed the stated economic justification for the closure and accuse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of seeking control of the media, which he sees as hostile to his policies.
The replacement of IBA with Kan was supposed to take place on 15 May but the government moved to implement the measure immediately after securing Parliament’s approval. IBA staff members were informed about the abrupt shut down, leaving hundreds of seasoned Israeli journalists, from broadcasters to producers to technicians, in limbo. Many of them are relatively young people with families who are wondering how they're going to make ends meet. Some will move to the new broadcasting corporation, but it is not clear who, or how many, media added.
“The government's decision to take the broadcaster off the air in such a brutal way is disrespectful for the work of generations of Israeli journalists who served the public. It also shows lack of commitment to public services values and mission by its overt attempt to control the new broadcaster,¨ said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger.
The IBA was established in 1948 and held a monopoly on TV and radio broadcasting in Israel until the 1990s.