Cash-strapped Channel 1 Warns News Anchors of Cuts

Channel 1 news anchors Haim Yavin and Geula Even yesterday received a letter warning that come February, the network will be unable to finance their current employment terms. Presenters Ben Caspit, Merav Miller and Menashe Raz also received letters from news division chief Uri Levy.

The letters mean the journalists may face salary cuts or less airtime. They are part of a rapid budget cut implemented at state television in recent days, after CFO Mody Ben-Zvi found the Israel Broadcast Association faces a NIS 280 million budget deficit in the coming year.

IBA interim director Yair Aloni said the deficit stems from a third consecutive, 12 percent cut in television fees, a 5 percent cut in radio fees and a drop in revenues from sponsorships.

The Finance Ministry decided to cut the license fees three years ago, which may eventually dry up the main source of funding for public broadcasting.

Among the budget cuts, Channel 1 has stopped preparing a major election night broadcast and will apparently not conduct independent exit polls.

The channel's in-house promo department will shut down for the coming two months, freezing all promotion for upcoming broadcasts.

Aloni told Haaretz that "the IBA budget is currently very much in deficit and I have no alternative solutions other than cutbacks and savings. I have appealed to those above me - the responsible minister and the treasury budget division - and I hope a solution will be found in the next two weeks."