You May Be Paying More for Your Car Radio, to Fund IBA Makeover

Personal computer users may be charged television license fee, now that broadcasts are available over the Internet.

Car radio license fees are expected to increase, in order to fund reorganization of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

The suggestion surfaced in a debate in the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee on the IBA law, where plans were disclosed to raise the license fee by anywhere from NIS 24 to NIS 50 a year, an increase of 20% to 41%. The degree of the increase remains to be decided.

The television license fee may also be going up by 5%, from NIS 390 a year to about NIS 410. Committee sources didn't rule out the possibility, however, that an increase in TV license fees would be deferred until next year, while others said it wouldn't go up at all. The license fees are to be put to a committee vote today.

Economic Affairs Committee chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen has expressed opposition to raising broadcast license fees to cover the NIS 300 million needed to reform the IBA. "I'm not prepared to have the Israeli citizen hurt by a reform at the broadcasting authority," he said.

Annual vehicle radio license fees are currently NIS 117, and are figured into the total cost of renewing yearly vehicle licenses. The collection rate on the IBA television license, on the other hand, is just 65%, in part because of the absence of up-to-date lists on the owners of television sets.

It has also been suggested that personal computer owners pay a license fee, since many television broadcasts can be picked up via the Internet.

Collecting the fee from computer users would require approval of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and the minister responsible for the IBA, Yuli Edelstein.

If the license fee is expanded to include computers, the change is expected to come into force in the coming year, but such a step has not yet been committed to and it's still the subject of discussion between Shama-Hacohen and the Finance Ministry.

With the impending departure of IBA director general Moti Sklar at the end of June, the Economic Affairs Committee decided that the cabinet and not Edelstein alone will approve his successor, and it has redefined the job so that whoever takes over for Sklar will also be editor in chief of IBA broadcasts.

The committee approved a NIS 1.6 million budget for broadcasts in the Ethiopian language Amharic.

NIS 8 million will also be going to Russian-language radio broadcasts at the urging of Education Committee chairman Alex Miller. The proposal was approved over the opposition of Knesset members Einat Wilf and Nitzan Horowitz.