On Sunday, the ministerial committee approved a bill by MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) allowing broadcasts of international news programs produced in Israel on cable and satellite television channels. Shai's aim is to legalize the English, French, and Arabic-language news broadcasts by i24, Patrick Drahi's television network, from studios in Jaffa.
Shai says that broad sections of the public in Israel suffer from the absence of news broadcasts in the languages in which i24 broadcasts. He explained, "Israel is driving them out of the public forum. The new broadcasting corporation is also not committed to broadcasting in these languages. This discrimination will now end."
Deputy Attorney General: Current regulations bar Israeli broadcasts by i24
Shai said he hoped broadcasts by i24 News and perhaps other international channels would come to Israel, and subsequently to the entire Middle East, "which is completely controlled by Arabic broadcasting channels."
Since going on the air three years ago, broadcasts by i24, managed by CEO Frank Melloul, have not been available in Israel, although they have been broadcast to dozens of countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and recently also in the US. Shai's bill is aimed at changing the law, which is currently preventing the channel from broadcasting to Israel.
In a June 2014 opinion by deputy Attorney General Adv. Avi Licht, he wrote that in its current form, the channel cannot go on the air in Israel, because for all intents and purposes, it is an Israeli channel, not a foreign one.
"The controlling shareholder in the channel is also the controlling shareholder in Hot Telecommunication Systems Ltd. (TASE: HOT.B1), and also the controlling shareholder in a large cellular communications company and an Internet service provider," Licht wrote in an opinion published at the time in "Globes."
"The joint holding by the controlling shareholder in a news channel and in the infrastructure transmitting the broadcasts contravenes the main idea in regulation of the news sector. Such a holding also contradicts the idea of decentralizing control in communications in general, as well as the underlying idea of the Promotion of Competition and Reduction of Concentration Law, which will go into effect in several months.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 24, 2016
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016