Staff Spat at Channel 10 News Leaves Boss Fighting for His Job

Shareholders in commercial television broadcaster Channel 10 are attempting to resolve a dispute at the company between the CEO of the channel's news company, Avi Barzilai, and other senior staffers. Haaretz has learned that Barzilai has been summoned to a meeting next week with the shareholders to explain the situation. The head of the news section has only been in the post for six months, and the board is expected to discuss his future with the company.

Barzilai has reportedly disappointed many of the Channel 10 News staffers - including popular newscasters Miki Heimovich and Yaakov Eilon, as well as weatherman Danny Rup - with poor personal relations; but the bad atmosphere came to a head when reports of harsh words bandied about between Barzilai and Mody Friedman, CEO of Channel 10, reached the press.

Yedioth Ahronoth reported yesterday that Barzilai had hurled insults at Friedman including, "You're a nothing, you're worthless. What have you done in television up to now, in any case?".

Others at the channel said that Barzilai had not said these words directly to Friedman.

Chairman of the board of the news company, Ehud Gross, expressed his support for his CEO. "I was very sorry about the Yedioth piece," he said yesterday, "and am continuing to verify exactly what happened. I hope that the storm will blow over as soon as it is clear that these words do not reflect what happened. We have the best news presenters... and the leading band of reporters in the country, and we have a highly professional manager in whom I have great faith."

However, some of the channel's shareholders may be considering terminating Barzilai's employment at the broadcaster, and it is widely expected that the owners will stand by Friedman, who they only placed at Channel 10's helm in September, in any dispute between the two. The news section is considered the pride and joy of the channel - the reason why some of the leading staffers appealed directly to the company's owners to solve the dispute.

A spokesman for Merhav, Yosef Maiman's company that is a part owner of Channel 10, said yesterday: "Channel 10 has run the best news broadcasts in Israel since its establishment. The owners guarantee that News 10 will continue to be the dynamic news company in Israel. All other matters will be resolved within the Israel 10 family."