Channel 2 Pulls Broadcast on Near-crash of Israir Plane in NY

Channel 2 has delayed airing an investigative report on a near-crash involving an Israir plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, following an Israir demand to yank the show.

The report was supposed to open the new season of Uvdah ["Fact"], a newsmagazine program, last night. The program explored the cover-up of the report on the accident.

In recent days, the deputy director-general of Israir, Gur Ben-David, was transferred from his position for his involvement in this affair. The director-general of Keshet, one of the companies that produces programs for Channel 2, made the decision not to air the program.

According to documents obtained by Uvda, Ben-David convinced the pilots to cover up the report on the incident and to play down its seriousness.

Ben-David allegedly urged the cover-up under orders from his superiors at Israir, because the company was trying to obtain approval for a Tel Aviv-New York line. The approval is important for the company because in the past few weeks, Tourism Minister Abraham Hirschon has held hearings on air travel policies, and he is expected to rule on the matter soon.

Reporters at Uvda have been working on the report for months, and the decision to pull the broadcast met with a stormy argument from the program's staffers.

Program editor Doron Galazar supported airing the piece despite pressure from Keshet to kill it, but Keshet director-general Avi Nir decided to cancel the program after being contacted by attorneys for Israir's parent company, I.D.B.

"The report on Israir that was supposed to be broadcast during the program [last night] was postponed, and will be broadcast in the coming weeks," Keshet officials said in response. "Nir arrived at this decision on the recommendation of our legal counsel."

The official said this step was taken to ensure the program's claims would be well-supported and beyond reproach.

Several months ago, Keshet decided to delay a report on Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz prepared by "Bulldozer," another investigative newsmagazine, after sources close to Peretz asked for the delay. The piece was supposed to air on the evening of the Labor primaries in which Peretz was competing, and was ultimately not aired until after the vote.