Israel's Treasury Saves Ethiopian Immigrant Television Station From Closure

Decision comes in response to request from Yesh Atid MK Shimon Solomon, who himself was born in Ethiopia.

Zvi Zrahiya
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Zvi Zrahiya

The Finance Ministry's budget director has committed funds to a television station that serves Israel's Ethiopian immigrant community in order to keep the channel on air.

The promise follows a request from Yesh Atid MK Shimon Solomon, who was himself born in Ethiopia.

The station, IETV, has 17,000 subscribers and is widely watched by members of the Ethiopian community here.

In 2011, the Knesset passed an amendment to the Communications Law to provide for about NIS 5 million government support for the production of original content for the Ethiopian station, which is privately owned and broadcasts via cable and satellite television. Due to the absence of an approved state budget so far this year, the station's production companies - which normally enjoy the benefit of state support - have not received any funding and have run into difficulty in providing broadcast content over the past three months.

If the situation were to have continued, it was expected to result in a number of layoffs of members of the Ethiopian community here.

Although the station is technically a commercial enterprise, it serves social needs of the Ethiopian community, keeping its audience abreast of developments of interest to it, and helping connect the community to Israeli society in general.

"I'm pleased that, ultimately, the layoff of dozens of employees just before Passover was avoided so they will now be able to enjoy the holiday," Solomon said in response to the Finance Ministry decision. He was elected to the Knesset for this first time in the recent election.

Ethiopian immigrants arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport.Credit: Nir Keidar