Radio Chiefs Clash Over Coverageof Social Protests

In an angry letter to Reshet Bet radio station manager Motti Amir, Israel Radio director Michael Miro accuses the latter of deceiving him regarding the planned nature of Saturday night's coverage and undermining his authority.

Israel Radio director Michael Miro and Reshet Bet radio station manager Motti Amir exchanged barbs Sunday over the way in which the social protest demonstrations were covered on Saturday night by Amir's station.

Reshet Bet covered the demonstrations throughout the country via a live continuous broadcast on Saturday night. The previous Saturday night, Reshet Bet did not cover the large Tel Aviv demonstration in any special fashion, as opposed to other broadcast outlets that all gave the event special coverage.

In an angry letter to Amir, Miro accused the latter of deceiving him regarding the planned nature of Saturday night's coverage and undermining his authority.

"On Friday, we had a regular work meeting at which you informed me, among other things, that coverage for the wave of protests on Saturday was being organized," Miro wrote, adding that Amir had told him the broadcasts would consist of songs and periodic short reports from the field.

"I was astounded when I began hearing promos about a special broadcast... and it was promoted thus on the news as well," Miro continued. "The decision regarding a special broadcast is the purview of the chief editor [Miro] and not in your hands. The broadcast you organized sounded unprofessional and amateurish.

"This arrogant style and the fact that you aren't prepared to accept the change of management at the IBA is not acceptable and will be dealt with in a disciplinary fashion if necessary."

There was controversy surrounding Miro's appointment when it was finalized about a month ago, with some arguing that through his appointment, as well as that of Yoni Ben-Menachem as IBA director, the Prime Minister's Office, which oversees the IBA, would attempt to exert political influence over its broadcasts.

Amir accused Miro of this in his response.

"You assign your friends to broadcast and presenter slots; you draw up the work schedules; and you terrorize the reporters and presenters on behalf of your political superiors," Amir wrote. "You prevented a broadcast from the big demonstration in Tel Aviv... claiming the protest was political and didn't have to have live continuous coverage."

Amir claimed that Miro had tried to pressure him, 50 minutes before Saturday night's broadcast, to cancel it.

"When I told you that all the [TV] news reports had opened with the demonstrations, you responded, 'That's the tycoons' TV, that's commercial, that's tendentious.' I couldn't believe my ears, and I said, 'What are you saying? That television news is being harnessed against the government?'"

Amir wrote that the broadcast, which went ahead as planned, was "excellent, comprehensive, balanced, and worthy."

Asked about the letters, the IBA said: "The Israel Radio director doesn't manage the radio through the newspapers and has no intention of responding to lies and gossip."

Amir's response could not be obtained.