Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Friday that he will take action to cancel a clause in a bill adopted by the Knesset Friday, which would limit journalistic bias in the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
"The Prime Minister believes that journalistic rules of ethics should not be decided in primary legislation, and has decided to take action to fix the said clause,” Netanyahu's office said.
The clause was a last-minute addition to the Public Broadcast Law that was passed before dawn Thursday in the final readings. The law was passed after the government agreed to delete a clause that wuld have forced the Israel Broadcasting Authority to fire hundreds of employees.
While apparently glad to see that their jobs had been saved, journalists in the IBA went on the warpath and accused MK Yisrael Eichler of the haredi United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party of stealthily slipping in the clause forbidding journalistic bias, and threatened to turn to the High Court.
"The authority's broadcasts should devoid of unilateral presentation, bias, expression of personal views, giving out marks and placing of labels, hiding facts or stressing them in a selective manner that does not correspond to their news value,” according to the clause.
IBA Foreign News Editor Oren Nahari called the clause “ridiculous”: "If I take the clause to the absurd end, my colleagues and I may not express opinions about ISIS, the refugee crisis, and the fight between Trump and Clinton,” explained Nahari.
Esti Perez, who presents a noontime radio news show on the IBA's Reshet Bet, used the pulpit to say: “A democratic state that forbids its public journalists from expressing an opinion shows panic and weakness that are typical of weak dictatorships. Handcuff me – I've expressed a opinion.”
MK Eichler told Galei Yisrael Radio Thursday: “Every listener in Israel knows that there are groups that receive strong expression. The nation demands to hear both sides. It is unthinkable that I, as a taxpayer, should pay a person who incites against me and my views, and this includes eight million citizens.”