Leading Candidate for Director of Arabic-language Television Draws Fire

The Lada'at association and the Tadmit Center, which work to oversee the media, have appealed to the State Comptroller's office concerning the Israel Broadcast Authority's (IBA) tender for the position of director of Arabic-language television. The organizations are seeking to disqualify Dr. Khalil Rinawi from participating in the tender for the post.

According to these organizations, Rinawi's candidacy could ostensibly be seen as tailoring the tender and creating a job specifically for him. Rinawi, a doctor of communications, served on the IBA's management committee until about six months ago, and as chairman of the Arabic-language broadcasts committee.

In the management committee, Rinawi was considered the spirit behind efforts to change public Arabic-language broadcasts. For example, the attempt to appoint a designated director of Arabic television - even though it was not completed during his tenure - is associated with him.

According to the two media watch organizations, Rinawi's efforts in this area did not end there, and as chairman of the Arabic-language broadcast committee he was responsible for disqualifying candidates for the post as part of the internal tender arranged by the IBA. They say that all this, and especially the fact that a few months before his departure he was among the candidates competing for the tender, make his candidacy problematic. "The mere fact of his candidacy cheapens the supervisory council," they wrote to the State Comptroller. "It will encourage other members to promote an idea that will in practice promote their personal interest."

This is not the first delay in filling the position. In recent months, the tender was delayed for assorted reasons. For example, about three weeks ago, search committee member Dorit Inbar decided to disqualify herself from serving on the committee due to concerns over a conflict of interests. Last week, the IBA decided to cancel the search committee and establish a tender committee in its place. Now it is possible that the decision on the next director will be postponed yet again.

Currently, Arabic language broadcasts air on Channel 33 for four hours a day on weekdays and seven-eight hours on weekends. In the past, while a member of the managing committee, Rinawi stated that the IBA's broadcasts had become irrelevant to the Arab public. He added, "the next director has to be well versed in the Arabic language and have proven managerial skills."

Yesterday, he called the claims against him "totally idle chatter and the product of a vivid imagination."

The IBA stated that "the procedures to be used to select a director for Arabic language television are the internal procedures of the authority, in line with the legal opinion of the IBA's legal adviser. We cannot comment on pending tender proceedings, or about the details of a given candidate due to the individual's right to privacy and because the tender is still in progress."

The State Comptroller's office said that following the complaint, a preliminary review has begun and a decision will be made regarding further steps.