The Dead Sea Works will be allowed to continue its $1.5 million media campaign, the Second Authority for Television and Radio decided yesterday.
The Dead Sea Works, a subsidiary of the Ofer family's Israel Corporation, is trying to convince the public it is not to blame for the grave ecological problems of the inland sea and the rising water levels in the southern part that threaten to flood the hotels along the shore.
The Ofers are also the controlling shareholders in Channel 2 franchisee Reshet.
But the broadcasting authority's ombudsman, Giora Rosen, called the decision mistaken.
"In my opinion, the ads are deceptive and misleading. I recommended asking the authority to be more sensitive." Rosen said the company's advertisements are cute and friendly but misrepresent the true situation at the Dead Sea.
"It is possible that freedom of speech allows the ads and canceling them would not receive court approval, but we still must listen to the public," said Rosen. "There is something unfair here."
Rosen said he has received about 80 complaints about the campaign, and this shows the public cares.
The ombudsman's opinion is not binding, but his job is to reflect the public's interest, he said.
The Second Broadcasting authority said that after a examining the public and legal issues involved in the campaign, it would allow the company to continue to broadcast its ads.
The Finance Ministry and the Dead Sea Works are negotiating over who will pay the estimated NIS 5 billion to NIS 6 billion bill for dredging the southern part of the Dead Sea. The state wants the company to pay most of the cost, while the company claims it has no legal responsibility to pay for saving the hotels - though it is willing to pay half.
The Dead Sea Works declined to comment for this report.
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