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Since negotiations on reforms at the Israel Broadcasting Authority began in July 2007, a central issue has been reduction of the authority's workforce of 1,900. Although the parties to the negotiations have already agreed to reduce the staff by 700 employees, in the period since the negotiations began - and even before the cuts have been implemented - 160 new employees were reportedly hired by the IBA.

Most of the authority's budget, about NIS 700 million per year, is spent on salaries rather than on the direct cost of program production. The IBA refused a request from Haaretz for details on the number of employees that have been hired and that have left since 2007, but did explain that many of the new hires work in local news operations and are not considered IBA employees.

"Most of the employees hired by the authority during this period," the IBA statement said, "are employed in local news, which is being produced for the first time by the authority. The employment of this staff is conditioned on a special budget paid by HOT [the cable television provider]. In addition, a number of professional employees have been hired to replace staff who have left. In any event, the number of employees hired is smaller than the number who have left."

Other sources told Haaretz that about 160 new staff have been hired, including about 55 working in local news.