"Sound of the Ground," featuring Gilad Abro, center.
"Sound of the Ground," featuring Gilad Abro, center. Photo by David Bachar
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Nir Kafri
Saxophonist Eli Degibri. Photo by Nir Kafri

The French television music channel Mezzo will broadcast six Israeli jazz performances to be held in October - four in Tel Aviv and two in Jerusalem, Mezzo's director general, Christophe Winckel, announced on Monday.

The project is as part of the station's "Mezzo Jazz Mix Festival" international project, which has traveled the world since it was launched in the United States in 2008.

The six Israeli performances to be broadcast on Mezzo's HD channel in March 2013 will be seen by an estimated 17 million households in 44 countries. In Israel, the HD performances will be broadcast only by the cable TV network HOT.

The programs include performances by bass player Gilad Abro; pianists Omri Mor and Yaron Herman; composer-trombone player Avi Leibowitz and guitarist Amos Hoffman.

As in all the performances, before the music starts, the urban environment around the club or concert hall is shown. In Tel Aviv the venues include Anav, Levontin 7 and Zappa and in Jerusalem, the Gerard Bahar Center and the Yellow Submarine club.

Winckel, who is currently visiting Israel, said that Mezzo's classical channel would be broadcasting concerts held in Jerusalem in the 2008 and 2009 international music festivals starring Israeli artists or Israeli-born artists, including violinists Itzhak Perlman and Ivry Gitlis. It will also be showing portions of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition.

When asked why only HOT would be broadcasting the HD jazz performances and not the satellite network Yes, Winckel said he would try to persuade Yes to add Mezzo's HD channel to their network, and that Mezzo had no exclusivity agreement with HOT.

Winckel said the problem was that jazz and classical music were considered by television companies as niche channels, which serve a small audience.

Yes responded: "At the moment we have no plans to include Mezzo's HD channel in our broadcasts. HOT has channels we do not have, and the other way around."

Omri Batz, CEO of Talit Communications, which represents Mezzo in Israel, said that Yes' considerations were economic: Yes would have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for satellite use for the HD channel, not to mention the not-insignificant fee to Mezzo. For HOT, which is a cable network, the technical component is much less expensive, Batz explained.