'Israel's Channel 10 can continue broadcasting despite debt'
Deputy attorney general publishes opinion that major Israeli channel's broadcasting license can be extended for another year, despite outstanding debts of NIS 45 million.
Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht published an opinion on Sunday that Channel 10’s broadcasting license could be extended for another year, even though the major Israeli channel has not paid its outstanding debt of some NIS 45 million.
The Knesset Finance Committee rejected in December a request by Channel 10 to delay its debt repayment, forcing the major Israeli channel to immediately repay some NIS 45 million in debt, likely leading to its closure.
Channel 10 is expected to present an official request to extend its broadcasting permit until 2013. The Second Authority for Television and Radio, the body that regulates commercially-operated television and radio broadcasting in Israel, is due to discuss the request on Monday at a hearing for the channel.
The channel’s broadcasting permit is due to expire on January 27. If the channel does not repay its debt by that date, the Second Authority has said it will be forced to cancel its permit, as non-payment of debt is a violation of its terms. Nevertheless, legal firms and the media are working on a legal opinion that will enable the Second Authority to extend the permit despite non-payment of debt. This would enable the channel to continue operating, without delaying debt repayment.
Media officials claimed last week that a legal opinion of this kind would not stand up to a high court test, as non-payment of such a large debt is a serious violation, and the Second Authority does not have the authority to extend a permit in these circumstances.
The head of the Second Authority, Menashe Samira, has advocated in the past for legal reform to enable the Second Authority to postpone the channel’s debts. Currently, the Second Authority says that if a legal opinion enabling them to extend the channel’s license were to be published, they will act accordingly.
In any case, such a solution would only be temporary, leaving Channel 10 operating for another few months, but at this stage it would not be able to get a broadcasting license for 2013. However, the channel will be able to raise funds over the next few months in order to pay off its debt and get its license extended.
Channel 10 stated that “the reports of the Second Authority emphasize that the channel has stood by all its commitments and paid past debts. We will welcome any solution that will enable the continuation of the activities of the channel with the implementation of a reform of the permits.”