Israeli broadcasters unite to oppose ‘anti-democratic’ government media bill

Keshet 12 drama ‘False Flag’

Israel’s three largest broadcasters, Keshet 12, Reshet 13 and Kan, have joined forces to launch a group action forum in opposition of the government’s new media bill.

In a joint statement, the three networks said that the Israeli TV Channels Forum has been formed to “prevent the expected harm to media independence and freedom of the press as a result of the reform.”

The forum is a response to a bill spearheaded by Israeli communications minister Shlomo Karhi that features proposals including a significant reduction in local original content quotas and the creation of a government-controlled regulator.

The proposals, which are expected to pass later this year, also include scrapping the need for networks to obtain independent licenses to broadcast news and government oversight of ratings information.

The networks said that the forum will “use all the tools at its disposal to prevent the dangerous move of a hostile takeover of the Israeli media.”

Kan drama ‘Manayek’

“Political control of the media”

In their statement, the Israeli broadcasters said that “the takeover of the media market has become the government’s next target. Karhi’s plan is a prelude to crushing one of the cornerstones of democracy in Israel and allows political control of the media agenda.”

They continued: “The communications minister seeks to regress Israel to how it was four decades ago, establishing the government’s ‘content ministry:’ A political body that will control the news, the television market in Israel, and the publication of rating data – it is second to none in the democratic world.”

The forum added that the bill is “intended to blatantly intervene in the economic sphere as well, by rewarding specific media outlets – that the government desires to reward – with specified benefits and exemptions from payment.

“At the same time, the bill confiscates the rights of free channels, eliminates the local production industry, and severely harms Israeli public broadcasting and the Israeli music industry.”

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