Business in Brief

Broadcasting Authority seeking to collect license fee on TVs connected to computers

The Israel Broadcasting Authority is attempting to collect television license fees on TV sets that are only being used as a computer monitor rather than to receive television transmissions and are not connected to a tuner. One Tel Aviv couple claims the IBA is insisting they pay the license fee on the grounds that the set has the potential to receive television broadcasts. Another person who is challenging the license fee cited a Tel Aviv District Court ruling in favor of a business that had a television that was not being used to receive broadcasts and was exempted from paying the fee. An IBA spokeswoman said the court ruling did not apply to private individuals and was not binding in other cases absent a ruling by the Supreme Court. ‏(Amitai Ziv‏)

Bezeq employees to join Pelephone strikers in protests on Thursday

Striking Pelephone employees are ratcheting up their battle with management: Staff from the company’s parent company, Bezeq, will join demonstrations by Pelephone workers in front of a Bnei Brak service center today for the first time in the 17-day-old old strike, the Histadrut labor federation said yesterday. The union said Bezeq employees were prohibited from disrupting service at Bezeq. If Pelephone doesn’t soon respond to strikers’ demands to have their union presentation recognized, the Histadrut said workers from other companies would also join in future demonstrations. Pelephone management denies the strike has affected it operations, saying only a small number of staff have joined it. ‏(Haim Bior‏)

More and more employers deducting lunch hour from salaries

Milton Friedman was right after all: There’s no free lunch. At least not for an increasing number of employees in Israel whose companies are deducting the time they take for the meal from their salaries in an effort to cut costs. That’s what a survey by the business consulting firm Effective Solutions found in a poll of 240 businesses and 15,201 monthly pay stubs it conducted this month with Oketz Systems. About 15% of the companies were deducting lunchtime from salaries, up from 12% last year. Some companies will only pay for lunchtime after the employee’s first year. “In the eyes of employers paying a worker during his lunch break after a year’s seniority is an incentive and creates a sense of obligation,” said Avi Peretz, Effective Solutions’ CEO. High tech companies are less likely than others to dock wages for lunch, with just 4.3% doing so, the survey found. ‏(Hila Weissberg‏)

India rejects joint venture with Rafael

India has rejected a proposal by autos-to-software conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra to set up a joint venture with Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., a government statement said yesterday. According to media reports, the companies were to invest about 1 billion rupees, equal to about NIS 70 million, to develop and manufacture naval systems. Last March the two companies agreed to form a joint venture to develop and manufacture products such as anti-torpedo defense systems, electronic warfare systems, advanced armoring solutions and remotely operated weapon stations and approached the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to create the company. ‏(Reuters‏) 

Office Depot gets more time to find buyer

Office Depot got a court order yesterday extending a stay of proceedings by three weeks to enable the retailer to find a buyer. Office Depot, which in Israel is owned by Rami Shavit’s Hamashbir 365 Holdings group, was given the additional period of protection against creditors to allow negotiations to continue for the sale of the company. Although an investor group based in the United States and led by Avi Malka, who also owns Jump and ML clothing retailers, had pursued the purchase of Office Depot here, a notice will be issued today inviting new bids for the retailer. The major obstacle to the sale to the American group is the resistance of banks to which the Israeli chain owes about NIS 66 million. ‏(Oren Freund‏)