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Failing Israeli Newspaper Fears US Billionaire’s Competition

Sheldon Adelson is fighting a bill to shut down his newspaper because he is a foreigner. Should Israel also shut down European-financed Peace Now?
By Tzv Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/23/2009, 11:18 AM / Last Update: 12/23/2009, 11:36 AM

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The financially-plagued Maariv is afraid the success of U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson will put it out of business. Adelson’s lobbyists are fighting a bill aimed at closing down his newspaper by barring foreigners from owning Israeli media.

Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon estimates that the bill, sponsored by 19 Knesset Members, will not pass, but Maariv, which has been losing money for years, is conducting a campaign that blames Adelson’s success for its problems.

Ofer Nimrodi, publisher of Maariv, told MKs that the continued existence of Adelson’s Yisrael Today (Yisrael HaYom) free newspaper could lead to the closure Maariv in the coming year. The two-year-old newspaper has gained nearly 30 percent of the market share and is making inroads on the popular Yediot Acharonot newspaper.

Adelson and Netanyahu  Adelson is a supporter of the Likud party, and his newspaper is the only leading print media that generally favors a more nationalist policy.

One opponent of the law suggested that if MKs are worried about foreign influence, they should consider shutting dozens of organizations such as Peace Now, which are heavily funded by European Union countries.

Writer and musician Dudu Elharar, who writes a column for Besheva weekly and held a key radio spot on the army station for many years, told Arutz 7, “Maariv is a failure because it has no clear editorial policy and does not appeal to any particular readership. Maariv could not support itself long before Yisrael HaYom began, and now Nimrodi is trying to blame it for his problems.

“If it bothers Nimrodi that foreigners influence Israeli politics, he should shut down dozens of groups, such as Peace Now. He also can close down the Peace Centers" that bear the name of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and President Shimon Peres,” groups that Elharar said damage the country.