Channel One's 9 PM Mabat newscast, which has been broadcast in its time slot since the TV broadcasts began in Israel in the late 1960s, will either move to an earlier hour or be cancelled altogether because of a contract dispute with the Treasury. The Israel Broadcast Authority, under instructions from the Finance Ministry, is cutting out overtime pay and installing a time clock which workers will have to clock in and out with at work. As a result of the new rules, nearly all live broadcasts that were broadcast after 7 PM and on weekends are set to be cancelled.
The changes are due to take effect on Tuesday, November 2.
While IBA staff and management have agreed to broadcast Mabat earlier in the evening – most likely at 6:30 PM – it is possible that the program will be significantly shortened, or may not even be broadcast at all, IBA sources said. Similarly, all other live events, such as sports matches, will no longer be seen on Channel 1, and management was seeking to work out a deal with one of the commercial or cable stations for broadcast of games of the Israel Premier Soccer League (Ligat Ha'al).
The changes also affect Israel Radio, which will also no longer broadcast live events after 7 PM. As a result, soccer and basketball games will likely not be broadcast on the radio at all.
Long-time staff members and contract workers are strongly opposed to the installation of the time clock, but the clock is a requirement of the reforms being instituted by IBA management on the orders of the Treasury, which has said that the IBA had no right to sign contracts with many of its workers.
MK Ofir Akunis, chairman of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, told reporters Sunday that he planned to convene a meeting specifically to discuss the situation at the IBA, and to seek ways to convince workers to continue broadcasting after 7 PM. “There is no place for these kinds of actions on the part of employees. I don't know who is to blame or why, and I don't care. The bottom line is that it is a huge error to move Mabat to 7 PM. The viewers will be mainly hurt by this move, as Channel One's audience has specific, long-time viewing habits.”
IBA sources said that a committee of top IBA officials will meet daily to decide on how to handle each day's nighttime broadcasts, and to approve overtime pay if necessary.