Netanyahu: Criticism of My Handling of Communications Market Won't Deter Me

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, July 24, 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, July 24, 2016.Credit: Ronen Zvulun, Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of Sunday's cabinet meeting that the criticism in the press of his dealings in the telecommunications sector only reinforces his desire to advance his planned moves.  

"I want to clarify," Netanyahu said, "I won't be bought or deterred. Not by criticism, not by vilification and not by caressing screen time, which as you know I get endlessly. One thing I know – the more the opposition to opening the telecommunications market to wider competition grows, I understand that I'm doing the right thing. "

Netanyahu claimed that he isn’t trying to take over the telecommunications market to sabotage the public broadcasting corporation.

"Had I wanted to shut down public broadcasting, I would have allowed the new corporation to go on air when it's not ready and it would have failed," he said. "And Channel 1's screen would have darkened or faltered. That's why an extension period is required, to enable the new corporation to prepare properly and to air when it's ready. During the extension period the existing public broadcasting will carry on with its broadcast, and there won't be a shutting down."

According to the prime minister, the reason he holds the communications portfolio is to develop the market for competition similar to that in other markets.

"It’s time that more television and news channel enter [the market], to compete with the existing television channels," Netanyahu said. "In Israel, there's a concentration of television broadcasts that hardly exists in the free world.

"I checked countries similar in size to ours; Denmark – six television channels, Belgium – five television channels, and Finland – eight television channels. The Israeli public is crying out and deserves to get a freedom of choice also in television, and I'm working to that end.

"Just a there were only two cellular companies in the past and today there are more because the market was opened up to competition, the same will happen in the telecommunications market. Any investor who'd like to – from the right or left, from the top, bottom, side or center – anyone could invest in these channels. The Israeli public will be the one to choose what it watches, and it won't be chosen for it," the prime minister said. 

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