Speaking at the session, News Director Shmulik Shem-Tov said that throughout his career he only worked with few Arab journalists, and that even now major publications do not have more that one or two fulltime Arab reporters.
"I cannot remember one scoop, one main headline that was done by an Arab journalist," he said.
As a result, Arab viewers will tend not to trust local media outlets, Shem-Tov noted.
Second Broadcasting Authority General Manager Moti Shaklar added religious, periphery, Russian-born and disabled Israelis are also underrepresented on the screen, pointing to a recent study on the issue.
Those who are interviewed on talk shows tend to be secular Tel Aviv residents of European background, he said.
‘Learn from al-Jazeera’
One reason for the grim reality is that commercial stations are pressed to make a profit, so they use items that are safe, Shaklar said. Moreover, the Arab-Israeli conflict prompts fears that Arabs on television will anger Israeli viewers and hurt the program’s rating, he said.
However Shaklar’s argument was subsequently dismissed by Zoheir Andrawous, editor of Palestinian newspaper Kul-al-Arab, who noted popular Qatar-based network al-Jazeera does not hesitate to interview Israelis.
"Why does al-Jazeera interview Israeli and Russian officials?" Zoheir said. "Why does it give the Israelis the right to respond, without being afraid of losing viewers?"
Meanwhile, Jafar Farah, director of Mossawa, The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens of Israel, said that when Israeli channels asked the Supreme Court for more money, they divided the funds among movie producers, but earmark none to Arab movies.
"We have what to say, we have producers," he said. "Our movies participated in international festivals, we do not need your favors."
'We need to incorporate everybody'
Israelis generally do not like Arabs because local media outlets incite viewers against them, Farah said.
"The Arabs are portrayed as unintelligent," he said. “When a suspected terrorist is caught, there is immediately a camera crew on the site, there are immediately clips to release. When there are Jews abusing Arab minors, they choose not to broadcast it."
Meanwhile, Salman Natour, editor of Du-Et, an Arab-Israeli quarterly paper, said that both Israelis and Arabs are minorities; Israelis in the Middle East, and Arabs in Israel. Both groups are fighting for legitimacy, and both have to work hard.
"If peace is important to people," he said, "they have to invest their money and effort, and not wait for the authorities."
Farah said that because Israelis, who do not know the Arab culture or language, do not listen to the stories of the Arab population, they face a serious conflict.
"We will watch shows that you do not want us to watch, because you do not give us a different outlet," he said. "There are Palestinians who are getting killed, but you are not showing them. Instead we watch broadcasts from Syria that incite against the Jews. We need an alternative, we need to incorporate everybody," he said.