The crisis that hit Channel 10 was not a force of nature. The commercial channel went on air with the worst possible timing, January 28, 2002, at the height of the Palestinian uprising, with the economy in retreat. And in crisis, naturally, the first things that are cut are ad budgets.
In addition, the channel's launch was not successful. The right managers weren't chosen, nor was the right programming. And the level of waste at the television was stunning - from uncontrolled spending on taxis, to salaries lacking any business logic for "stars."
Before its launch, Channel 2 franchisees Keshet, Reshet, and Telad, didn't spare any effort in trying to convince the government that there is no need for another commercial channel, that the advertising pie is just too small. They just wanted to keep their monopoly positions safe. But according to calculations at the Communications and Finance Ministries, the advertising sector can support two channels - in normal times.
There is great importance to the future of Channel 10, or any media outlet. One of the Israeli communications market's toughest problems is the small number of families that control such large portions of it, giving them too much power and influence over content. In a democracy, the "Fourth Estate" has great importance as a watchdog; but to do the job well, it must be as disbursed as possible, as pluralist as possible.
From here stems the importance of Channel 10, which brought new owners into the media world, new content.
Just yesterday, the Second Broadcasting Authority extended the franchises of Reshet, Keshet, and Telad without a tender - a gift from the government (or, more precisely, Reuven Rivlin) and a blow to Channel 10, which does deserve a life raft in the form of releasing it from obligations to produce NIS 340 million of production a year, NIS 70 million of it original.
In addition, it's worth looking into a proposal from Yaron London, who recently organized a group of managers and workers willing to take 5-25 percent pay cuts for a long period of time, in exchange for 30 percent ownership of the channel - clearly a negotiation number.
The idea is fundamentally good - employee participation in the risks and rewards. The very possibility (albeit slim) of becoming "tycoons" will be incentive for workers to invest more of themselves in the channel's success, which can only be good. The proposal is analogous to the technology sector norm, where the worker gets a lower salary but holds options.
The proposal has one more big plus: It is potentially very tempting to politicians. Nothing is more seductive to politicians than employee involvement in management. It allows them to appear in public as the "rescuers" of the oppressed working class and not as the ones handing out perks to the wealthy.
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