One Channel, One Opinion

How can Channel 10, whose raison d’etre is providing competition to Channel 2, decide of its own free will to remove the program that offers the only competition to “Ulpan Shishi”?


Two weeks ago, the flagship program of the Channel 10 news company, "Hashavua" ("This Week" ), was axed. Its few and devoted viewers (relative to the number of viewers of Channel 2's "Ulpan Shishi" - "Friday Studio" ), myself among them, have to be satisfied with a light news flash, or we have to join the herd watching the panel of omniscient men on Channel 2 and try to console ourselves with the fact that now at least we're part of the majority.

The majority likes to consume its weekend dosage of current events in the mainstream style of Channel 2. And anyone who can't stand the subversive cleverness of Amnon Abramovich can always zap over to Channel 1 and watch the news as it is edited, interpreted and presented on the channel that is a branch of the government it's supposed to criticize, and that is exempt from any need to prove it even has any viewers.

How can Channel 10, whose raison d'etre is providing competition to Channel 2, decide of its own free will to remove the program that offers the only competition to "Ulpan Shishi"?

The reason given for axing "Hashavua" was financial. Out of financial considerations, the reporters and editors of "Hashavua" were invited to a hearing before their dismissal or reassignment.

Channel 10 really is having financial difficulties, because its main funder, Ronald Lauder, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's friend, cannot or does not want to continue plowing a fortune into a channel that owes money to the government. The sum is miniscule relative to Channel 1's annual budget, but for now the government refuses to reach a debt-rescheduling arrangement with the channel.

The question is, why did the sword fall on "Hashavua" of all programs? And if it really is only a matter of financial considerations, why are they cutting back only the people who deal with program content and not on the production teams?

And why wasn't it decided, for example, to reduce the extremely high salaries of some of the channel's big names to enable the program's continuation?

The two elements currently responsible for Channel 10's continued existence - Lauder and the government - are not pleased with "Hashavua," and the two are interrelated because Lauder is part of Netanyahu's circle and both men are friends of Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the freebie daily Israel Hayom. Is there any connection between the removal of "Hashavua" and the critical-leftist nature of the program? What's the connection, if any, between getting rid of "Hashavua" and introducing "Politically Correct" - an informal talk show whose first two interviewees were Likud MKs Zeev Elkin and Ofir Akunis. Apparently there is no causal connection ("Politically Correct" was filmed several months ago ), but it is certainly more pleasant for a politician to expose those human sides that are not generally exposed when he is interviewed on a program like "Hashavua."

Are we returning to the days of one channel, its role being filled by Channel 2, and "Ulpan Shishi" serving as the tribal campfire? It is particularly distressing to think that what is happening on Channel 10 is a reflection of what is happening in society as a whole - a country with a huge coalition that that is turning into a society with one opinion or maybe two, the difference between them being similar to the ideological difference between Likud and Kadima. And all viewpoints that are outside this huge center-right bloc can be shoved into Channel 8 (on the assumption that it will continue to exist after it has changed owners ), or presented by panelists serving as sidekicks on mainstream programs, causing those viewpoints to seem somewhat bizarre.