Game shows, off-beat news items and a relaxed atmosphere are in store for viewers of Israel's new commercial TV channel, writes Ruta Kupfer
One of the declared goals of Channel 10, the new commercial channel that begins broadcasting today, is "to expand prime time by means of two news broadcasts, at 7 P.M. and at 10 P.M." But it seems that the real intention is to push the news outside of prime time.
Current events and politics are also out of the picture. It seems that they don't want to cause anyone to feel too bad. The programs that will deal with current events promise to do so in a relaxed manner, to touch on issues "at the margins of the news."
"Newsshow," a program presented by Tal Berman, which will be broadcast three times a week (and at a later hour, after prime time), promises to deal "with news items that are not treated in any other news context." "Am Yisrael LIVE" is a satirical program, but it is hard believe that it will compete with "Zu Artzeinu," since it was created by the producers of "Shemesh" and "Shahar." "Ben and Rosen," on Tuesdays, with journalists Emanuel Rosen and Ben Caspit, which will touch on issues in the news, immediately clarifies that "the atmosphere on the program will be relaxed and informal."
Channel 10's broadcast schedule is full of game shows (at least one a day). "Jeopardy" with Roni Yovel, opens with the participation of the "kings of trivia" from the older version of "Jeopardy" (which had a long run under presenter Eli Yisraeli on Channel Three). It's a reasonable program of its type. But every day? After the news?
And "The Weakest Link," a survivalist-Darwinistic game show from England (BBC Prime) whose Hebrew version will be presented by Penina Dvorin, is simply a riddle. Why should a well-known lawyer want to damage her good name by moderating a game show? (One could understand her taking part on a one-time basis for charity purposes). Her participation seems to reflect in miniature what is happening on this entire channel - it has a distorted order of priorities. This is an Israeli channel that is purely escapist, which shrugs off social responsibility, which is aware of the Israeli lack of sensitivity and nurtures it. If Channel Two can broadcast a program in which people dance on tabletops immediately after the announcement of a major terrorist attack, on this channel the attack will scarcely be worth mentioning.
The new commercial channel is entering a television world that is entirely different from the one that received Channel Two. This is a digital, multi-channel, more subdivided world, in which satellite competes with cable. It's a world whose format Channel Two has managed to change, replacing Channel One as the tribal campfire and reflecting some of the clear preferences of the average viewer of the commercial channel. And although it follows in the footsteps of Channel Two, and could have surprised us, or become an alternative, Channel 10 has issued a broadcast schedule that is not very different from that of Channel Two, and is sometimes even more of an anachronism.
It is evident that Channel 10 bought a lot of fresh, popular merchandise from the U.S., but not one of the programs purchased was a Golden Globe winner, or even a candidate for the award.
"Ed," broadcast on Sundays, is one of those series that attempts to be magical. It's a kind of masculine version of "Providence," a "Northern Exposure" of the 21st century. Ed was a successful, happily married lawyer. One day he made a small mistake, and his entire life was destroyed. He returns to his godforsaken home town, buys the failing bowling alley, and establishes a legal practice there. The strange characters are supposed to be captivating, but the story doesn't always work. "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" is another offshoot of "Law and Order," which is not on the same level as the original series, but is not as bad as "Law and Order: Special Crimes Unit," which is broadcast on Channel One.