The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) on Thursday welcomed news that the Israeli government has decided not to promote the closure of the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation, KAN, at this time.
“We've been extremely concerned by Israeli government statements that threaten the future of public broadcaster KAN. We cautiously welcome reports that proposals have been ‘indefinitely postponed,’” the EBU said in a statement posted to its Twitter account.
“We must protect independent journalism & and will monitor developments closely,” it added.
Earlier on Thursday, Channel 12 News reported that the heads of the coalition decided this week not to promote any plan other than the judicial reform, until further notice.
According to the report, the goal of the coalition at this time is to focus solely on promoting the judicial reform and as such, at this stage, the threat of the closure of the public broadcaster has been removed.
Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi has made no secret of his desire to shut down the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation. He recently stated that he would cut hundreds of millions of shekels from the Corporation.
"There's no place for public broadcasting in Israel," Karhi said in an interview with Channel 12 News. "We will take down barriers and open the market to competition. I hope that it will enter the economic arrangements law soon. The Public Broadcasting Corporation's budget will be cut by hundreds of millions. We will take those hundreds of millions that today go to one player on the market (the Public Broadcasting Corporation) and split them up properly."
The EBU had previously sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which it expressed concern about Karhi acting to shut down KAN.
“Without a functioning news operation, KAN would no longer meet its commitment to a full range of programming as public service media, putting in doubt its eligibility for EBU membership and ability to take part in major events such as the Eurovision Song Contest,” warned EBU Director General Noel Curran in the letter sent last month.
Curran said, “Independent news and information form an integral component of public service media organizations and make a key contribution to media pluralism in well-functioning democracies…. With the primary interest of the public in mind, that directly funds KAN, we trust the new government will also safeguard the independence of KAN and enable it to continue to fulfil its mission in democratic society”.