MKs Try, Again, to Shut Down Educational TV

Knesset members are once again proposing to shut down the state-owned Educational Television and turn it into a private nonprofit organization. Some 15 MKs from various parties - including almost all members of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee - have signed a private member's bill submitted in October by MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi). Orlev is the committee chairman.

Educational Television is presently an independent unit under the auspices of the Education Ministry. The bill would remove the organization from the restrictions of the civil service, but its goals would remain the same: to produce and purchase programs in the areas of education, culture and Jewish values. Though the proposed law would close the station and fire its workers, their rights would be protected and some would be hired by the new organization. The unit currently has over 200 workers, all of whom are civil servants.

Orlev's bill is identical to one previously submitted by former MK Inbal Gavrieli. Both are based on the recommendations of the Stern Committee, which examined Educational Television in 2004.

The new bill's sponsors include MKs Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), Haim Oron (New Movement-Meretz), Eitan Cabel (Labor), Yuli Tamir (Labor), Ruhama Avraham Balila (Kadima) and Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu). The Knesset is scheduled to debate it soon.

According to the bill, funding for the new organization would come partly from the state and partly from advertising, donations and commercial sponsorship. Orlev said all other television stations have their status anchored in law.

Educational Television declined to comment on the bill.