'Anti-Israel Hayom' Bill Would Ban Free Papers

First there was the "anti-Adelson" bill, which targeted the foreign owner of free daily "Israel Hayom," and now legislators are looking to take on the paper itself: A draft bill submitted by MK Marina Solodkin over the weekend would ban free newspapers altogether. Why? In the name of free speech, of all things.

The bill will be reviewed by the Knesset's legal department before it makes it onto the agenda.

Under the bill, freebies may be distributed to the public nationwide for no more than a year. However, government and public institutions may receive them for an unlimited period of time.

"The phenomenon of newspapers being distributed for free for extended periods of time across the country seriously damages print journalism, and could lead to monopolies and cause severe damage to freedom of speech," the Kadima MK writes in the introduction to the bill.

She goes on to explain that distributing a newspaper for free presents other papers with unfair competition, and may even drive them into bankruptcy. Then, the public will be able to read only the views of the free paper's publisher.

Coincidentally or not, Maariv publisher Ofer Nimrodi has said that his tabloid may cease to exist this year if Israel Hayom continues publishing.

Two months ago, he initiated the so-called anti-Adelson law, which gained the backing of Solodkin and 19 other MKs, and would have banned foreign residents or citizens from owning newspapers in Israel. Israel Hayom happens to be owned by U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson.