American billionaire Ronald Lauder has agreed to bail out the financially troubled Israeli television station Channel 10.
Under the agreement signed with the State of Israel, the channel’s franchise will be extended for three years and Lauder, the station's majority shareholder, will invest a further NIS 80 million, $21 million, over that time, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.
"I decided to come to Israel at the beginning of September to make a decision," Lauder said at a news conference in Tel Aviv. “My decision then rested on the position that if there were no change I would close at the end of September."
"Yesterday too, I debated whether to close or not,” Lauder added. “I read the latest draft of the settlement. It's not ideal, but it's better than what there was six months ago. It's not something that it's possible to make money out of. I wondered, should I go or stay? At the end of the day, because of the 600 employees who would lose their jobs, I decided this morning to sign the draft settlement with Channel 10."
"One signature isn't enough," he added, "If the state doesn't sign, the channel will close on December 31. I believe that they will sign."
According to reports, Channel 10 is in approximately $29 million debt, which consists of state royalties and license fees, as well as interest on the fees.
Lauder is the president of the World Jewish Congress and a staunch defender of the State of Israel. He is also outspoken against global anti-Semitism, an advocate of the need to impose harsher sanctions against Iran, and a strong ally of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
In May, Lauder harshly criticized the call made by Ireland's Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore to impose a ban on Israeli products made in Judea and Samaria.
“Such boycott calls are cynical and hypocritical,” Lauder said. “Minister Gilmore is taking aim at the only liberal democracy in the Middle East while keeping quiet about those who really wreak havoc in the region: the Assads, Ahmadinejads and their allies Hizbullah and Hamas.”
“West Bank territories are legally disputed and not illegally occupied,” he added.