Maariv staff warn that paper may shut
Discount Investment Corp., controlled by Nochi Dankner's IDB group which owns 66% of the company, is supposed to decide whether it will provide a critical NIS 10 million to NIS 15 million in cash to keep the daily afloat at least during the High Holy Day period through October.
Employees of the Maariv daily staged a protest in front of the office of Discount Investment Corporation yesterday evening amid fears that the media group may shut down the newspaper as early as Sunday.
Discount, controlled by Nochi Dankner's IDB group which owns 66% of the company, is supposed to decide whether it will provide a critical NIS 10 million to NIS 15 million in cash to keep the daily afloat at least during the High Holy Day period through October.
In July, the media group warned that without an additional influx of cash the newspaper could not survive. But Discount's board is divided on extending the money, and two shareholders have threatened to file lawsuits over the losses it has already run through its holding in Maariv.
Maariv's board, which supports the cash injection, was meeting late yesterday, while Discount's directors will only meet today. Sources said that it was likely Discount would provide part of the needed funds, enabling the newspaper to continue for another month.
Demonstrations were held at Discount's headquarters at Tel Aviv's Azrieli center, as well as in front of the homes of Discount chairman Amir Erel and two of the board's members.
"Among the [Discount] directors, there are a number opposed to the proposal and they plan to use their veto power to prevent the money from being transferred," Maariv's union said in a statement yesterday. "That would mean closing the newspaper on Sunday, the firing of 370 journalists and more than 1,500 other employees - all on the even of Rosh Hashanah."
Discount has already invested NIS 300 million in the struggling newspaper group by buying shares and bonds and through shareholders loans. The last one was in June, when Discount extended NIS 25 million to Maariv on condition that it take steps to streamline operations.
Meanwhile, the Channel 10 television network, another beleaguered media business, won a delay in repaying debt that risked its survival.
The Finance Ministry said yesterday it was setting up a committee to explore how to reschedule NIS 45 million in debt to the state. The decision means that the Second Television and Radio Authority, which regulates broadcasters, will for now not withdraw Channel 10's financial guarantees as it had said it would do by Sunday. That would have resulted in the channel's closure.