Media Watchdog Slams TV News Shows' Cross-promotion

The news broadcasts of Israel's two commercial television channels contain promotions for the stations' non-news programming, according to a report released last night by Israel's Media Watch. An examination of 40 prime-time news broadcasts on Channels 2 and 10 showed that they were used to promote other programming from the channels. The watchdog organization said this was a violation of Second Television and Radio Authority directives.

On Friday, to name one recent example, entertainer Adi Ashkenazi was interviewed extensively on Channel 2's "Friday Studio." Viewers have also been surprised by the coverage of the Israeli versions of the reality television shows "Big Brother," "Survivor" and "American Idol" that occasionally make their way into the evening news. The Media Watch survey was conducted between January 10 and February 18.

The authors said that during this period there were nine items on Channel 2's evening news broadcast that promoted other programs. Of these, seven were for the programming of a channel franchise holder while two were for other news programs. Media Watch said that promotions for the investigative news magazine "Fact" were especially prominent.

On Channel 10's prime-time news broadcast, the group found 18 instances in which other programs were promoted, including seven advertising other news programming. offerings. These included items promoting Guy Pines' show on the station and segments from the investigative program "Hamakor."

Some of the items in the report arguably have journalistic value as well. The interview with Ashkenazi, for example, came after she was questioned by the police after a small quantity of hashish was found at her home.

A senior official at Channel 2 news said the programming under fire from Media Watch was news content from current affairs and investigative programs: "We are proud that we are providing news headlines from our [current affairs and investigative programs]."

Channel 10 News director Reudor Benziman said: "The report dealt primarily with the broadcast of excerpts from "Hamakor" and regarding basketball. We are proud of the scoops on "Hamakor" and want to broadcast them. Basketball is shown immediately after the news, and the broadcast is turned over to them, Benziman said, adding, "Guy Pines deals with entertainment news and we also deal with the subject on the news, and it was dealt with once on the day it was first broadcast and was made the main story."