Channel Two to be Split in Two
Israel is to get a fourth television station, if a law proposed by Communications Minister Gilad Erdan passes. Beginning April 1, 2015, the current Channel Two will be divided into two other stations, each of which will broadcast full time. The stations will be run respectively by the two networks that today jointly operate Channel Two, Keshet and Reshet.
Each of the channels will operate independently, and will have their own news departments. The two networks will be able to split the assets (personnel, equipment etc.) of the current Channel Two. If they cannot come to an agreement, the Channel Two news department will be auctioned off between them, according to Erdan's law.
Channel Ten is not mentioned at all in the new law. It also does not specify an extension of the custodianship of the station by its current management. However, it does mention the closure of a news department in a station under the jurisdiction of the Second Television Authority – which Channel Ten officials took as referring to their news department.
A bill to shut down the Israel Broadcast Authority in its current form was recently passed by the Knesset. 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.
Broadcasts are less relevant now than ever, and many young people are unaware that there is even such a thing as public broadcasts in this country. Most of the IBA's budget goes to pay for salaries and pensions, not for content.
Polls indicate that Israel's public broadcasts are the second least-watched in the world. Only Lebanon's public TV has fewer viewers as a percentage of population.