The vote was carried eight-to-five. It represents a blow to Channel 2 franchisees Reshet and Keshet and to Channel 10, whose debts amount to NIS 50 million (roughly $13.8 million).
The committee ordered the three to pay their debs by the end of 2011, leaving them – and especially the struggling Channel 10 – scarcely any time to raise tens of millions of shekels.
Prior to the vote, Channel 10 CEO Yossi Varshavsky appeal to the committee: "Please, just allow us to defer the debts by one year. I have to stress that we are not asking for the debts to be erased, just deferred."
Channel 10 CEO Yossi Varshavsky (Photo: Noam Moskowitz)
Committee Chairman MK Carmel Shama (Likud) said that the panel "was not voting on whether Channel 10 should be shut down, but only on its debts deferral.
"It's important to remember that Channel 10's shareholders are wealthy people how can transfer the funds. Still, there are two months before the debt is due and the Knesset, the Regulator and the shareholders can still devise a solution," he said.
Shama stressed that the committee's debate "had nothing to do" with politics: "The Right is not 'out to get' Channel 10… we are discussing the broadcasting bill's numeral stations article. We've convened to hear and be heard and a decision will be made as all other such decisions are made in the Knesset."
Channel 10 principal shareholders Yossi Meiman (51%) and Ron Lauder (35%) have cut off its funding in August.
Peter Kelner, Tomer Avital and Shelly Pritzker contributed to this report
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