Nochi Danker and his IDB group Tuesday told a Tel Aviv District Court that they had not been engaging in an advertising boycott of Haaretz or its sister newspaper, TheMarker, but that a boycott was a legitimate action.
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“There is no boycott but rather individual business considerations that conform to general trends in the advertising market,” attorneys Zvi Bar-Natan, Merav Baruch and Maya Nusbaum-Rapaport from the Goldfarb-Seligson & Company law offices told the court. They argued that “even if there were a boycott, which we deny, it does not affect the financial standing of Haaretz and it has no impact on opinions expressed in it.”
Danker and his IDB group of companies submitted their defense in response to a lawsuit that accuses them of an advertising boycott and asserting that it harms freedom of expression. The suit, filed in April by attorneys Shachar Ben Meir and Yitzhak Aviram, alleges that the IDB group has enforced a ban on Haaretz since 2010. Data collected by Ifat Advertising Monitoring showed that 8% to 10% of the group’s advertising spending between 2007 and 2009 went to Haaretz. That dropped to 0.3% to 0.4% in 2011-2012.
They have asked the court to issue an injunction requiring the defendants to end alleged the boycott.
The attorneys for Danker and IDB, who asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, claimed Tuesday that “Haaretz-TheMarker has been waging a massive campaign against the IDB Group for a long time, with the explicit purpose of bringing about the downfall of the group and the person at its head.” They asserted that “this involves tendentious and negative coverage of events that pertain to the Group.”
They also presented to the court a report prepared by Ifat Media Analysis that showed that the coverage of Danker and IDB by the business dailies Calcalist and Globes was equally balanced between positive and negative items, whereas stories critical of IDB group and Dankner outweighed positive coverage by a ratio of 5:1 in TheMarker.
The defense also argued that the proportion of advertising by IDB Group is minuscule in comparison to that of the large advertisers. They noted that the newspaper advertising market had changed in recent years with the appearance of new publication such as Calcalist and Yisrael Hayom, a fact that was not reflected in the lawsuit’s claims.
The defendants presented other cases in which such a boycott was imposed in Israel, such as one by Tnuva on Globes, another by Bank Leumi on Haaretz and one by Mazda on the automotive magazine Auto.