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Israel Broadcasting Authority Salaries Enrage Many

A report on salaries in the publicly funded Israel Broadcasting Authority has shocked many. Clean government groups demand accountability.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 10/27/2009, 6:08 PM / Last Update: 10/27/2009, 11:22 PM

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A report on salaries at the publicly funded Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) published on Tuesday has raised many eyebrows, with the IBA running a deficit while 64 percent of its budget goes for salaries. Clean government groups demand to know why there appears to be no accountability.

The data on IBA salaries was part of a larger Finance Ministry report on salaries in the public sector. According to the information provided by the Ministry, about 450 million shekels ($120,000) of the IBA's 700-million-shekel budget is dedicated to salaries. The highest gross monthly salary belongs to Arab affairs correspondent Oded Granot, who earns about 47,500 shekels ($12,800) a month. Broadcast managers are paid 45,000 shekels monthly, while the IBA General Manager Moti Shklar is paid 34,800 shekels and the IBA's legal counsel receives 32,000 in monthly compensation.

Relatively high monthly compensation is also paid out to behind-the-scenes IBA employees or those lower down in the hierarchy by means of an inverted salary system. Such workers are paid a relatively low base salary- for example, 5,400 shekels ($1455) per month, with an additional 8,500 NIS as a "salary bonus" every month.

There is also additional pay for undefined "overtime," several thousand shekels in "expenses" and more than 1,000 shekels in "annual and other" bonuses. Another sum greater than the base salary is also paid into IBA pension and health insurance funds.

In response to the report, the chairman of Ometz, an organization dedicated to good governance, told Arutz Sheva Radio that it is no surprise...that the IBA is constantly running a deficit. "This phenomenon of bloated salaries to IBA employees is immoral," Chairman Aryeh Avneri said. "On the one hand, stars must be compensated, but on the other hand, in the difficult economic situation in the country, there must be an element of personal example. There are hundreds of IBA employees who turn up to punch a clock and do nothing. There are instances of trading favors, a sort of market between the IBA chairman and his employees. These are very serious phenomena."

Avneri had especially harsh comments for the "unlimited gall of a bunch of youngsters who came from IDF Radio, children demanding salaries of 50,000 shekels a month for presenting a program." Established TV show hosts, he added, must show a personal example and accept a pay cut. "There must be order here; these are public funds...."

According to Avneri, the government ministry refuses to cooperate with Ometz, "but we will not be deterred in the face of biased media. I will soon be publishing a book called The Collapsing Kingdom in which I will tell stories about many journalists. ...We are being boycotted, but this doesn't frighten us. We will continue to fight everyone who is disconnected from the people."

A legislated reform of the IBA was has been held up for several months. Under the reform, the salaries would be brought under control and 700 employees, out of 2,000, would be let go. Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), responsible for the IBA file, has been blocking the reform process and holding up the necessary legislation. Previous ministers in Edelstein's position supported the reform process and pushed forward the required legal amendments.