IBA staff angry about right-wing agenda for leading radio talk show
Senior IBA employee charges that the authority is being turned into a government spokesman.
Israel Broadcasting Authority staff have reacted furiously to the management's decision to hire right-leaning journalists to copresent the radio current affairs program "Seder Yom" ("Agenda" ) alongside current host Keren Neubach.
Journalist Menachem Ben will now coanchor the Sunday morning program on Reshet Bet. Sources in the IBA say the move was made to counterbalance Neubach with presenters with more rightist views. "Agenda" deals with social and economic issues while criticizing the conduct of decision makers.
"The management is turning the IBA into the prime minister's spokesman," says a senior IBA employee. "They still haven't managed to touch Neubach, because of the public pressure, but apparently now they're going to fight her to the end and put people next to her who won't let her speak."
Ben defended his appointment, saying this weekend: "I hope my presence in the program alongside Keren Neubach will make the broadcast more interesting, or no less interesting. This is an entertaining possibility, and it can be done very well. It could be correct to present, at a certain level, both sides."
Ben, formerly a contestant in the "Big Brother VIP" reality TV show, has sparked many scandals, including when he attacked the gay-lesbian community. Ben and Neubach have already been embroiled in a confrontation after Neubach criticized his political views. Ben replied in a column he wrote on reports of the IBA's intention to fire Neubach: "There is poetic justice here."
Attempts have apparently been made to shackle Neubach for the past year. The IBA is currently seeking candidates to copresent "Agenda" on the other days of the week.
Keren Neubach refused to comment. However, she has complained about the move to her seniors and other people connected to the IBA.
Ben says he lives in a settlement, so he has "a political identity. I don't know exactly what her [Neubach] opinions are, but from the little I've heard, on socioeconomic issues her views are not far from mine. I am against swinish capitalism. I have written that many times."
Ben also denied any connection to the prime minister or his wife: "I have had no contact with [Benjamin] Netanyahu for years. I have attacked him vehemently, and admonished him over his handling of the Haredim and foreign workers. On many issues, I am against Netanyahu. Concerning the Land of Israel, I am very much in favor of him."
Just how exceptional the appointment is can be gleaned from the fact that Ben and Neubach have not held a pilot program. "No radio program in the world goes on air without first holding a pilot, in order to see whether such a shared broadcast is feasible," said a senior IBA source. "They simply placed the fact before Neubach that Ben will sit beside her on Sunday. The only reason for that can be to shut her up or make her run away."
Ben admits he has not even talked with Neubach since being offered the joint presenter's role for the program, which airs from 8:00-10:00 A.M.
The IBA replied: "This is a professional decision made by the radio's manager, Michael Miro, with the aim of making the broadcasts more varied and interesting."