Slomiansky: Best Thing Might Be to Close Down IBA
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky discussed what he said was a long list of problems at the Israel Broadcast Authority. Slomiansky made the comments in the wake of a discussion Wednesday on the problems.
The IBA is the government broadcaster responsible for TV station Channel One, and Israel Radio's seven radio stations. All Israelis who own a television, or who have a car (all of which are assumed to have radios) must pay a special annual tax to support the stations. Many Israelis complain that the IBA's broadcasts are left-leaning and do not represent their views.
The IBA is a perennial money-loser for the government, and Slomiansky said that a report investigating the organization that was discussed by his Committee shows why. “I am trying to cover many issues in my work on the Committee and deal with them seriously, but there are so many examples of 'monkey business' that is costing the Israeli citizen a great deal.”
According to the report, the IBA is owed NIS 3.4 billion (nearly $1 billion) by Israelis who have not paid the TV and radio tax. The IBA has hired attorneys to reclaim that money, but the attorneys have so far been able to get NIS 512 million – deducting from that fees of over 30% of the sums collected.
Other problems include money that gets lost “in the system,” with money disappearing without a trace – something that is perhaps worthy of a police criminal investigation. Meanwhile, he said, the IBA is deeply in debt and annually looks to the government to bail it out.
Perhaps the best thing, he said, would be for the government to get out of the media business – to sell off the IBA's assets “and build something new that would provide good service and be something Israelis could believe in.”