Israel's Channel 10 Agrees to Financial Rescue Deal, but Future Still Unclear

Owner Ron Lauder accepts terms that would defer the station's debt, agrees to invest millions of shekels in the TV station.

The  owner of Israel's Channel 10 has agreed to government terms to keep it on the air, as the television station was facing crippling debts.

Executives from Channel 10, known for its aggressive investigative reporting, have charged that the government hindered the channel's rescue, hoping to eliminate a source of criticism. That was before Sunday's agreement.

David Vaaknin, a spokesman for the station, confirmed the accord was reached.

The  station's chief shareholder, U.S.- billionaire Ron Lauder, accepted the terms that would defer Channel 10's debt, agreeing to invest millions of shekels in the station and post guarantees until its broadcasting license is renewed.

Lauder is the cosmetics empire heir and also president of the World Jewish Congress.

Channel 10's NIS 65 million debt is for state royalties and license fees that accumulated through 2006. The panel discovered an additional sum of about NIS 45 million that it says includes interest in royalty fees, license fees and other charges, which would bring the station's debt up to NIS 110 million.

The channel is not yet in the clear. The government must sign the deal and pass a law by Dec. 31 extending the station's franchise, and those are not certainties.