Channel One Off the Air, May Stay Off for Awhile

The Israel Broadcasting Authority went off the air Monday, in protest of a plan to close it down next year.

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Yosef Berger,

IBA headquarters
IBA headquarters

As of Monday afternoon, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) was off the air – with TV and radio broadcasts shut down, apparently until further notice. According to union officials, the network will stay off the air until the government backs down on its reform plan, which will entail a complete shutdown and reconstitution of the IBA.

Under the plan, the IBA will be closed next year and the television tax will be cancelled. A Knesset bill to that effect recently passed its first reading, and MKs sponsoring the bills, mostly from the Likud, said they intend to pass it into law before the end of the Knesset summer session in July.

The bill will shut down the IBA and its radio and television stations, including Reshet Aleph, Bet, Gimel, Reka Radio, the Arabic radio station, and Channels 1, 23, and 33.

The IBA will close down by March 31, 2015, by which time a panel will have been appointed to devise a plan to continue public broadcasts in a more economical manner.

As a result of the strike, union officials said, the daily Mabat newscast will not be seen Monday, and neither will a basketball game betweem Macabbee Haifa and Hapoel Jerusalem that was to have been broadcast.

Communications Ministry officials said they expected IBA radio stations to be back on the air Tuesday morning.

Communication Minister Gilad Erdan said that the strike was unnecessary. “We intend to close down the IBA and end the TV tax, but we also want to reach an understanding with workers,” he said.