State Proposes Solution for Channel 10's Debts

Lauder will have to inject NIS 60 million in cash

Channel 10 may be getting a new lease on life. The hoped-for solution for the money-losing television broadcaster should come from two directions, proposes a joint committee of the Prime Minister's Office and the Finance Ministry established to save the station.

The committee's recommendations, which are to be submitted officially no later than immediately after the Sukkot holiday, will include the restructuring of its NIS 64 million in debts to the state, which would be spread out over five years; and the injection of some NIS 60 million in new funds by the owners in 2013.

The proposal is conditional on Channel 10's restructuring its business model and severely cutting costs to prove it can continue to operate successfully. The committee is also expected to recommend restructuring Channel 2 franchisee Reshet's NIS 24 million debts to the state.

The proposal for Channel 10 includes restructuring its ownership so that Ronald Lauder would become the major shareholder. Today, Lauder has a 25% share and Yossi Maiman has a 51% controling share, with Arnon Milchan owning the remaining 24%. Maiman has stopped putting money into the channel and Lauder has become the de-facto owner. The committee is now recommending that this change be inplemented officially and so that Lauder's representatives become the address for any matters dealing with the channel.

The franchisees for Channel 10 and Channel 2 owe fees and royalties from 2006, and the committee was established after the Second Authority for Television and Radio decided at the end of August to seize both franchisees' bank guarantees for nonpayment of the debts.

Channel 10 and the Finance Ministry declined to comment on the report.