Israel Urged to Reconsider Plan to Close Public Broadcaster

International Press Institute cites concerns over the prospect of political influence due to direct state funding proposed for new agency.

IBA building in Jerusalem - Tomer Appelbaum / BauBau
The IBA building in Jerusalem. If public broadcasting is closed, we will be left with a diet of reality shows.Tomer Appelbaum / BauBau

The International Press Institute urged the Israeli government to reconsider its recommendations to close the Israel Broadcasting Authority in a statement released on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced plans to end the current licensing fee and shut down the IBA and replace it with a new broadcasting agency that would draw from advertising revenues and receive support directly from the state budget for the first time.

While the IPI welcomed the call to create an independent search committee charged with selecting the public broadcaster's managers, it cited concerns over the prospect of political influence due to direct state funding.

"We realize that licensing fees to fund public radio and television are unpopular, but the proposed alternative is even less desirable - anytime politicians have to vote on funding, they ultimately have a vote on how that money is spent,” IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said in a statement released Tuesday.