The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its Israeli affiliate, the National Federation of Israel Journalists (NFIJ), in expressing its strong concerns about a draft bill being prepared by the Israeli government that will close down the countries only public broadcaster, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA).
In a letter sent to each member of the Israeli parliament, the IFJ says it is shocked to hear that the draft bill proposes to sack 1,000 out of the 1,700 employees of the IBA, then replace it with a new broadcasting body.
Signed by IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, the letter condemns the move which is being prepared without consultation with employee representatives about the size or shape of the proposed new broadcaster, except to say it will be a “slimmer and more effective organisation.”
“Our unions, the world over, would not accept that a public service broadcasting, which is so crucial to citizens, can be shut down at such a speed before the broadest consultation with civil society and representatives of the employees and without clear plans for the replacement body, including how it would be structured, funded and governed,” says the letter.
Pointing to a similar move in Greece last year, when a “slimmed down” version of country’s public broadcaster was also proposed, the letter says that in reality it became a poorer version of the old broadcaster that struggled to attract audiences or fulfill public service values.
And the IFJ also believes that proposals to abolish fees for the public will mean the new broadcaster will be reliant on government funding, making it vulnerable to political interference.
The IFJ letter concludes by urging the Israeli government and MPs to maintain their “commitment to public service broadcasting and values” by extending the timetable in order to open consultation with all the stakeholders involved, including representatives of the employees.
It also calls for guarantees that any future public broadcaster will be independent, with an emphasis on delivering “top quality and diverse services to all Israeli citizens”.
The letter adds: “The IFJ and its 180 unions of journalists worldwide will follow carefully how the situation will develop and we will work closely with our Israeli unions to defend the future of their members.”
For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries