Yes and HOT have won this one, and consumers have lost. At least, those among the consumers who originate in the former Soviet bloc: Channel 9, the so-called "Russian channel," will remain outside the list of כרקק channels, the Knesset Economics Committee decided yesterday, 6-9.
The Educational Channel, 23, and Music Channel, 24, will also remain open only to subscribers to the satellite or cable companies.
As of year-end 2008, the free channels available to all will be 1, 2, 30, 33 and 99, accessible through a digital converter that will cost about NIS 400.
Yes and HOT had lobbied hard against allowing free access to the three channels, including the "Russian channel," for fear of losing subscribers in droves. Channels 2 and 10 were also afraid that a freely accessible Russian channel would cost then a hefty chunk of their advertising income, and wielded pressure of their own. Last week Yes was demanding various regulatory reliefs from the state if Channel 9 were added to the "free package." Misezhnikov said the decision, leaving Channel 9 in the cable and satellite packages, was "miserable." "The Knesset members bowed to the dictates of the Finance Ministry," he said.
Before the vote, the Economic Committee's lawyer, Eti Bendler, warned that if the Russian and music channels were added to the "free package," the issue would reach the court and the state wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on.
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