Channel 10 workers protest
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Photo: Ori Porat
Ron Lauder
Photo: Ori Porat
Channel 10 confined to 2-year extension
Main shareholder Ron Lauder pledges NIS 80 million to cover channel's debts in upcoming year, but extension of license will not be for three years as initially agreed

Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office Harel Locker met Sunday evening Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to discuss a settlement for Channel 10's outstanding debt.


Locker's new settlement proposal includes a two-year extension of the channel's license, up to 2014, as oppose to the previously proposed three years.


Channel 10 is requesting a three-year extension on order to stabilize its financial situation and recruit new investors.


The proposed settlement also grants Channel 10 a NIS 65 million ($17 million) loan to repay past debts for state royalties and license fees. The Locker committee demands that half the loan be contingent on the channel's main shareholder, Ron Lauder, pledging bank securities, while the rest will be granted against financial collateral.


Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Channel 2 franchisees Reshet and Keshet will be eligible for a state loan under similar conditions as Channel 10.


Channel 10's license will expire at the end of the month, and no legislative steps have been taken yet to allow for an extension.


In a press conference held Sunday in Tel Aviv, Lauder he unilaterally signed the draft agreement that was formed by the committee and Channel 10. Lauder called upon the government to sign the agreement as well.


Lauder also pledged an NIS 80 million ($21 million) cash injection to fuel the channel's operations in the upcoming year. However, at a later point changes were made to the settlement, and while claims were that the channel accepted the new terms, Channel 10 argued that it had never been presented with the agreement.


Channel 10 Chairman Avi Balashnikov and the channel's finance committee chair, Michal Grayevsky issued the following statement in response: "Each time we are amazed by the scope of the artistry and acrobatics that go into the attempt to hold Channel 10 on a tight rein or to bring to its demise.


"The unwieldy and quixotic manner in which this affair is being handled is incomprehensible. This is yet another sad day for the freedom of the press in Israel."


A senior source in Channel 10 said, "The Locker settlement, as publicized and promoted by the Prime Minister's office director-general on November 5, which set forth a three-year extension, was drafted by the work of professionals at the Ministry of Finance and was based on a three-five year business model.


"One can only wonder why and how all of the work done at the professional levels at the ministry was obliterated in one fell swoop and how a three-five year business plan is supposed to provide the same results within only two years' time."


This report was originally published in Hebrew by Calcalist



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