Channel 10 shareholder Yosef Maiman yesterday asked the Second Television and Radio Broadcasting Authority for a moratorium on the TV station's NIS 45 million debt. "We're at the 90th minute," he said, adding that if the Second Broadcasting Authority did not help, Channel 10's owners would be forced to close it down. The Second Broadcasting Authority Council agreed to recommend to Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz to postpone the station's debt to the state to 2013-14.
Maiman told the Second Broadcasting Authority that more than NIS 1.3 billion had been invested in Channel 10 over the years.
If the Ministry of Finance agrees to a debt moratorium for Channel 10, giving it a breathing spell for a couple of more years, legislation will be submitted to permit the moratorium. A moratorium will allow Channel 10 to obtain a license in January 2013, which will help it find new investors. However, if the station asks for the license, it will have to pay its current debt to the state, which totals NIS 6 million.
Second Broadcasting Authority chairman Yaakov Shaham told "Globes", "This is it. It's possible to say that we've reached the moment of truth. We must now do everything so that Channel 10 won't close. The key is now with Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz. Only he can make the decision that will give a green light to begin an expedited process to amend the legislation that will allow a debt moratorium for Channel 10, and embark on the road to save the station."
Shaham added that, to his regret, three investors who had expressed interest in Channel 10 were now out of the picture. "There is currently one new and serious investor who is showing interest," he said. "We must not cause this investor to go back home. I believe that this is the last investor who can save the station. The alternative is that it will close, which will cast a giant stain on all those who ignored, failed to help, and did not allow the station's rescue."
Shaham said, "There is now a good chance to change the commercial TV map, with two strong groups competing against each other: Keshet Broadcasting Ltd. (Channel 2) on one hand and the new investors with Channel 10 and Reshet Television Ltd. on the other. The finance minister must to everything to help the debt moratorium."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 19, 2012
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