IBA Threatening Cutbacks if Journalists Don't Agree to Reforms

The government and the Israel Broadcasting Authority administration joined forces yesterday against the IBA's journalists' committee. A meeting between Finance Ministry officials, Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein and IBA administrators resulted in a decision to begin reducing the IBA's operations unless tangible progress is made on the reform plan within the next 10 days.

The sanctions include not paying overtime (which constitutes the majority of the employees' income), not operating mobile broadcast vans and closing the IBA's Tel Aviv television studio and several radio studios.

Negotiations over new working contracts and far-reaching changes in the authority's operation have been underway for more than two years, although little has changed on the ground. The finance ministry announced some time ago that unless the contracts it required were signed, the authority would have to implement a new plan, without consulting with the workers.

During yesterday's meeting, Edelstein, finance ministry budget director Udi Nissan and IBA Director General Moti Shklar agreed to begin the sanctions by Thursday next week.

Haike Ginnossar, chairman of the Jerusalem branch of the Israel Journalists Association, told Haaretz that no meetings have been scheduled with the administration for the next few days, and said this was an attempt by the IBA to shrug off the negotiations. "We can make progress easily, and the panic is rather strange. It's just a lever for applying pressure on us," he said.