MK Backs Claim, but Treasury Denies Ch. 10 Got Sweetheart Deal

Channel 10 official tells Haaretz that 'they led us to understand that if we fire Raviv Drucker, the channel will be saved.'

On Monday, the Finance Ministry denied having offered Channel 10 a deal to pay back some NIS 44 million in debts to the state in deferred installments. However, MK Roni Bar-On (Kadima ) backed up a Haaretz report from Monday in which a top Channel 10 official claims the Prime Minister's Office is using the deal as a bargaining chip in exchange for the firing of journalist Raviv Drucker.

The Channel 10 official told Haaretz that "they led us to understand that if we fire Raviv Drucker, the channel will be saved."

Drucker was responsible for a report last March on prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's travels, which led to an investigation by the State Comptroller's Office against Netanyahu. Bar-On's allegation implies that the Finance Ministry had been instructed to pave the way for such an arrangement, saving Channel 10 in exchange for Drucker's dismissal.

Despite the treasury's denial, Bar-On, a former finance minister, confidently reiterated his statement, saying that "there was an unequivocal recommendation made by the [ministry's] professional staff ... holding that in light of the current crisis and the need to combat the concentration of media power and not allow Channel 2 to monopolize the market, the right thing will be to allow Channel 10 to pay back its debt in deferred installments. [Finance officials] can keep saying this is incorrect, but I know all the details of this topic, and I can affirm categorically that this was the recommendation of high finance officials."

Bar-On said that he became acquainted with the matter 10 days ago.

"I addressed this issue because of the quote in Haaretz regarding Drucker ... I definitely agree with the idea that if Drucker's head were delivered on a silver platter to the government, the problem of Channel 10's paying its debt would find a solution."