Court Seeks Technical Fix to Airwave War

The High Court of Justice yesterday asked the cable and satellite television stations to examine the technical feasibility of putting running text along the bottom of the screen, so the Israel Defense Forces could issue information and instructions to the public while regular programming proceeded, instead of seizing total control of the airwaves in the event of an Iraqi attack.

The court made the request during a hearing on a petition against the IDF's plan to take over the airwaves for about 15 minutes should such an attack occur.

It did so after the idea was raised by one of the petitioners, attorney Hanan Meltzer, who suggested that such a solution would obviate the need for the IDF's seizure of the airwaves.

The court also asked the IDF for more information about several aspects of its decision, including how it planned to convey information to the ultra-Orthodox - most of whom do not own television sets. The court also wanted to know what the IDF planned to do about pirate radio stations and the Internet.

The court asked the cable and satellite companies to give them responses by Sunday. A further hearing on the petition will then apparently be scheduled for sometime next week.