It was a legal decision reminiscent of King Solomon. This time, the custody battle didn't involve a baby but a television show’s Facebook page, and rather than splitting it in two, a judge has suggested asking the social media giant to clone the show's page.
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The case involves a lawsuit filed in Tel Aviv Labor Court by Channel 10 against Guy Lehrer, the former host of one of its shows, “Hatzinor” (“The Pipeline”), a current affairs program that focuses on news from the internet, culture and technology. In a proposed compromise on Monday over control of the show’s Facebook page, Labor Court Judge Michal Naim-Dibner has gotten the parties to consent to ask Facebook if it would be willing to duplicate the page so that Lehrer and the station can each have their own “Hatzinor” page that they can administer and that fans can "like" separately. If Facebook agrees, the case will be considered settled, but if not, the station’s lawsuit against Lehrer will proceed.
The “Hatzinor” Facebook page is one of the most popular in Israel. It may even be the Hebrew-language page with the largest following, with more than a million “likes” and followers. Lehrer worked at Channel 10 for 12 years and was the host of the show until recently moving to Channel 2. Despite the move, he retained control of the Facebook page, which he had created.
Channel 10 claims that on leaving the station, Lehrer was required to hand over all the material in his possession during his employment, including management of the Facebook page. The page, Channel 10 said, is an integral part of the show and administering it was part of Lehrer’s work at the station. But Lehrer’s lawyer, Hillel Sommer, has claimed that, since the Facebook page was created at his client’s initiative, it should remain his.
“Channel 10 knows very well why the Facebook page belongs to me and that’s why it’s so sad that I’ve had to be dragged into this proceeding,” Lehrer said, adding that he also came up with the format of the show while a news reporter for the station and only began being paid to host it three years later. Only a small portion of the material on the Facebook page was broadcast on the show, Lehrer said, adding that he spent about 15,000 shekels ($4,200) to fund the page. Furthermore he claimed his employment contracts with the station does not mention the page.
Neither Lehrer nor Channel 10 would comment for this article.