Deal May Be in Works to Save Channel 10 From Closure

The Second Authority for Television and Radio has postponed the publication of a new tender for Channel 10 for another 24 hours, after the finance and communications ministries announced a framework for an agreement with the existing franchisee.

If the plan turns into a full-fledged agreement, it will extend the present franchise for another two years and pave the way for the present broadcaster to receive a license.

However, sources involved in the negotiations say the franchisee must still find a solution for its debts to the film industry.

As part of the agreement being drawn up, the treasury will reschedule NIS 35 million of the channel's debts for royalties and fees, which will only start being paid in 2012, or when the channel receives a broadcasting license, whichever comes first.

Channel 10 will also have to pay NIS 10 million of its debts.

One of the main problems in the negotiations was the Second Broadcasting Authority's demands that Channel 10 put up guarantees that it would pay its commitments to content providers. The treasury's proposal, formulated in cooperation with the chairman of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, Ofir Akunis (Likud), is to establish a fund to support television and film production. The NIS 60 million fund will go into operation when new broadcasting legislation is passed. The state will put up NIS 30 million and the two commercial television franchises, Channels 2 and 10, will put in the rest.

But it is still too early to announce the deal as done.

Yesterday, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said the Second Authority must act according to the law and regulations, when he was asked about the demands that the agreement include payment of past debts for original film production.

Menashe Samira, the director general of the Second Authority, told Haaretz yesterday there was much progress made, but there still needs to be a solution to the film debts issue and Channel 10 still needs to propose a solution.