Compromise agreement reached over new public broadcasting corporation

The Finance Minister has announced a compromise agreement with his Prime Minister over a new public broadcaster, putting an end to the coalition crisis and early calls for election.

The compromise agreement, brokered by Finance Ministry Director General Shai Babad, Communications Ministry Director General Momo Filber and Ministers Yariv Levin and Tzachi Hanegbi, reportedly calls for the division of Kan, the new Israel Public Broadcasting Committee, into a “general” corporation and one for news and current events programming.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon confirmed that an agreement had officially been reached in a press conference yesterday.

He said: “The struggle over the last few days was a struggle over principles, not ego. I am happy to announce the agreement that we managed to reach an agreement with the prime minister. The agreement guarantees freedom of press, freedom of speech and adheres to the budget. In the framework of agreement there will be no political interference.”

It is reported that under the agreement the news broadcasts on Channel 1 and Israel Radio and will not be controlled by the heads of the Kan, but rather the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s (IBA) staffers, who will continue to provide the station’s news.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, in order to pass the new reforms through the Knesset, the launch of the new broadcaster will be delayed by two weeks to mid-May.

Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud), lauded the compromise, which he termed “a fair compromise” between the positions of his party and Kahlon.

However, the IBA released a statement condemning the compromise agreement, saying the deal results in “the establishment of a divided entity that can’t combine resources efficiently and cost-effectively as had been planned, and its result is wasting public funds”.

The previous government, with Netanyahu’s support, had approved a plan to replace the existing IBA with a new public broadcasting framework in 2014, but in 2016 Netanyahu, who also served as Communications Minister, argued that Kan, which has already recruited employees, was too expensive and instead sought to  “rehabilitate” the IBA.

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