Netanyahu Says He Didn't Order Sudden Shuttering of Public Broadcaster's News Show

The state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority was notified hours before Tuesday's broadcast that 'Mabat LaHadashot' was to be shut down

Channel 1 last Mabat broadcast, May 9, 2017.
Channel 1/Facebook

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not order the Israel Broadcasting Authority's news company be suddenly closed, the Prime Minister's Office said on Wednesday.

The state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority was notified hours before Tuesday's broadcast that "Mabat LaHadashot" (A glance at the news), which has been on air for 49 years, was to be shut down.

"The decision to close the Israel Broadcasting Authority in the way it was done was disrespectful and dishonorable," the Prime Minister's Office statement said. "The prime minister heard about it from the media."

The statement went on to say: "It was done without his consent and without his knowledge, not that he has the authority to make a decision of this kind. The prime minister was the one who fought so that the channel's news company will continue to broadcast and that as many of its employees as possible would be absorbed in the new media organization."

Netanyahu has said the broadcaster's shutdown is part of reforms to create a new replacement organization. But staffers say Netanyahu was unhappy with what he considered critical coverage and is trying to control the media.

The new broadcasting corporation, Kan, is tentatively set to go on the air next Monday, at the same moment the Israel Broadcasting Authority shuts down, following an agreement reached by coalition representatives at a marathon Knesset meeting on Tuesday. The Knesset is to vote on the matter today.

If the pact is ratified by the Knesset, broadcasting will cease on Channel 1, Channel 33 and eight radio stations. At the same moment Kan will begin its programming on TV, radio and the internet.