Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson Reuters

Prof. David Gilo, the Anti-Trust Authority Director, has approved the sale of nationalist newspaper Makor Rishon, as well as the NRG website, to the Adelson Group, which owns daily freebie newspaper Israel Hayom.

Prof. Gilo also approved the sale of daily newspaper Maariv to the Jerusalem Post.

The deals were agreed when the company headed by Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, which owned Makor Rishon, Maariv and NRG, ran into financial difficulties that threatened to close down the news outlets. Jerusalem District Court Judge David Mintz had placed a trustee, CPA Chen Berdichev, in charge of the troubled organizations.

The sales were then brought before Prof. Gilo, whose job it was to decide if the sales posed a threat to the competitive nature of the news market or could have deleterious effects in the areas of pricing, quality or quantity. He found that there is no serious grounds for concern that Israel Hayom would negatively affect Makor Rishon, whereas if the sale is not approved quickly, Makor Rishon could close down, and its readers would be harmed.

Dozens of public figures signed a petition that was published Tuesday, calling on Gilo to approve the sale of Makor Rishon and the NRG website to the Adelson Group.

The signatories include leftist figures like Meretz head MK Zehava Galon, ex-MKs Yair Tzaban and Avraham Burg, Prof. Asa Kasher, prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, and journalists Yaron London, Moti Kirchenbaum, Prof. Moshe Negbi and Keren Noybach.

Less surprising signatories include Israel prize winning journalist Yaakov Ahimeir, Coalition Chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud), ex-MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad, singer Yehoram Gaon, and Yesha Council Chief Foreign Envoy Dani Dayan.