Daily Israel Report

Government Approves Preliminary Proposal to Cancel TV Tax

Bill to see IBA closed and reopened under new management; MKs rally behind the bill after landslide vote.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/4/2014, 2:30 PM

Gilad Erdan; sign: 'TV tax cancelled in March 2015'
Gilad Erdan; sign: 'TV tax cancelled in March 2015'
Flash90

The Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) will be closed in 2015, if a landmark bill passes - and a new official Israeli channel will eventually take its place.

The bill to close the IBA was presented by Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) Sunday. Under the reforms, the television tax will also be cancelled indefinitely. The draft, which was approved by a ministerial cabinet on Sunday, will be revised before being up for vote in the Ministerial Committee of Legislation. 

Several MKs welcomed the reforms, according to Walla! News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) hailed the closure, saying that at the IBA, "unions have become bosses."

"We will continue to defend the unions [at the IBA] instead of the millions we all pay," Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) stated.

Even the Minister for Senior Citizens Uri Orbach (Jewish Home) expressed support for the move. "Channel One has so few viewers recently that the [channel] has been writing them into the end credits," Orbach quipped. 

Ultimately the proposal was approved by a landslide vote - 18-2 - with the only opposition being Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz (HaTnua) and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud).

Erdan noted that the move was a long time in coming. 

"The IBA has been slowly deteriorating over the past several years," Erdan stated at the Cabinet meeting. "Public broadcasting must be relevant and influential." He emphasized that current IBA employees will be placed at other channels, or at a new incarnation of the IBA which could be established after the closure, with the help of the State. 

Netanyahu explained that the drive to cancel the TV tax has gone through several Knesset terms and over a dozen committees. "Today we finally realized the reform: citizens of Israel will no longer have to pay the fee," he said. "The reform will strengthen the IBA very much; employees will continue to work under a new direction and those who retire will receive fair terms." 

"There are a few problems with it, but the overall direction is good," he concluded.