In the midst of a previous crisis, one of the investors in Channel 10 asked for my opinion as to the reasons for its lack of success. I replied that its content is a failed parody of Channel 2 and the viewers prefer the original. In the news field, for example, Channel 10 outflanks ("stings" was the term used by an enthusiastic television critic) Channel 2 from the left.
I added that media executives in the United States were convinced that CNN's policy of self-immolation presents an opportunity. According to their business logic, the average American loves his country, is proud of it, and wants to watch programming that reflects its beauty and attractive qualities alongside the unavoidable filth and clutter. America would not have attained such remarkable achievements if it was as bad, ugly and unjust as it is depicted on television. Its opponents are not automatically correct in accusing it of being guilty of every accusation by its enemies. This was the concept that served as the basis for the launch of the Fox News channel, which became a commercial success.
In kibbutzim whose members once worked on Yom Kippur out of ideological showmanship, now kitchens serve kosher food so religious guests can eat in their dining halls. Almost every hotel, including those with fully secular owners, is kosher.
Advertising agencies and political advisors who are close in mind and spirit to the Tel Avivian media clique provide "professional" services to right-wing and Haredi parties, especially during election periods. What is the motivation to toe this line on a television channel as well?
I also mentioned the (opposite) precedent of Maariv. As long as it expressed centrist positions, it was "the most widely-read newspaper." But once it changed formats - and its identity, in particular - it began its downward spiral that brought it to a similar state to that of Channel 10.
Perhaps because it is available for free, what it has to offer as supply remains a lone voice in the desert. But, as evidenced by the sterling financial results, the demand for "a stinging product" is continually shrinking. The encouraging pats on the back for Channel 10 from their colleagues in the clique are not enough to convince viewers and advertisers. Even with regard to the programs that are not directly tied to politics, the competition, if any, is over the lowest common denominator. Even this programming is recycled. It seeks to appeal to an audience that now prefers other ways to spend its viewing and leisure time - like on the Internet, for example.
It is not only talent that is lacking at Channel 10. When the network's employees demonstrate in front of the Knesset and blame the government rather than their own mistakes for the dead end to which they led the company that signs their checks, it is a sign that they have no shame. No regulatory changes can save this parody of a channel whose people repel its viewers. A government can channel funds, albeit for a limited amount of time, to a textile factory in an outlying rural area that sells a product for which there is no demand. This does not apply for a television network. And if it does, there are no free meals. The goal would be to turn it into a propaganda tool. Then the channel's workers would lose their integrity and their conscience.
There is, of course, a way to save the network: Change its content wholesale. And only those individuals from a world that is completely antithetical to the world of content and values as exemplified by the Tel Avivian clique can turn it around. The investors - whether the current investors or the new batch of investors - need to internalize the fact that Israeli television viewers love their country, their army and their state no less than American viewers. If they dare, Channel 10 could become the new Fox News of Israel.
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