Weathered the storm
Channel 10 gets last-minute reprieve
Shareholders, Treasury, Communications Ministry reach compromise aimed at enabling commercial station's broadcasting to continue

Businessman Yossi Meiman, whose media group is the primary shareholder in Channel 10, reached an agreement with the Treasury and Communications Ministry, which would enable the channel to stay on the air.


Channel 10 has been plagued by financial difficulties and Meiman recently announced that his media group would no longer finance its broadcasting.


The past two weeks have seen the channel's captains, government officials and Second Authority for Television and Radio representatives embark on frantic negotiations in an attempt to save the station, which is Israel's second commercial station after Channel 2.


According to the agreement struck Sunday, the channel will begin paying off its NIS 35 million ($9.22 million) debt in 2012, or at such time as it goes from being a franchised station to a licensed broadcasting one.


An additional NIS 10 million ($2.63 million) debt will be paid immediately, in cash.


'Channel will meet all commitments'

The Second Authority for Television and Radio, which began formulating a new franchising tender for the channel prior to the agreement, has yet to approve the new agreement, but sources familiar with the negotiations told Ynet it is highly unlikely that it would impede it.


According to the agreement, the Treasury and the franchisees would set up a NIS 60 million ($15.82 million) contingency fund, which would guarantee the channel would be able to live up to its financial responsibilities and commitments.


Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that his office "intervened in this crisis for two reasons – the first had a financial aspect and the second a democratic one – we want to ensure media pluralism in Israel."


Channel 10's CEO Yossi Varshavsky said that several details still had to be finalized with the Second Authority and that he preferred not to elaborate, so as "not to jinx it."


Avi Weiss, CEO of Channel 2 News welcomed the decision: "I'm glad that Channel 10 is staying on the air. Its continued activity is good for broadcast journalism. I'm convinced that the competition between Channel 2 and Channel 10 will continue to be fair and professional."


An official Channel 10 statement offered the following: "We welcome the Treasury, Communications Ministry and Second Authority for Television and Radio's efforts and willingness to ensure the existence of two commercial television channels in Israel.


"Channel 10 is prepared to meet all of its programming obligations and financial commitments."


Keren Natanzon contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 08.03.09, 19:54
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