August 30, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: Don’t artificially resuscitate Ch. 10

Posted in Media at 10:30 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Don’t artificially resuscitate Ch. 10

By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 29/08/2012

The Peled Commission recommended that Israel should aim toward an “open skies” policy enabling almost anyone to broadcast.

Fifteen years ago, one of us was a member of the Peled Commission, whose task was to map out a vision for Israel’s media in the 21st century. The committee unanimously recommended that Israel should aim toward an “open skies” policy that would enable almost anyone who so desires to broadcast, whether on TV or on radio.

Due to technological band limitations at the time, it was apparent that it would be some time before this policy could be fully implemented. Therefore, one of the specific recommendations was to add, in the interim period, at least one additional terrestrial channel. These recommendations were fully adopted by the first Netanyahu government and ultimately led to the birth of Channel 10 TV. The channel began broadcasting on January 28, 2002.

At the outset, Channel 10 had an enormous advantage over its main competitor, Channel 2. Whereas the latter was shared throughout the week between three concessionaires (Keshet, Reshet and Telad), Channel 10 was allowed to broadcast seven days a week. On the other hand, it was also disadvantaged by the fact that Channel 2 was broadcasting terrestrially so that anyone with a TV could receive it, while Channel 10 was initially limited to broadcasting only via cable TV. However, this was not really a serious impediment as the vast majority of Israelis at the time were connected via cable.

From the outset, Channel 10 started on the left foot. Its programming schedule was criticized as simply emulating Channel 2. In contrast to its competitors, its initial investment costs included astronomical salaries to attract TV personalities such as Ya’akov Eilon. In fact, at present, even after a 25-percent reduction in 2008, the London et Kirschenbaum program reportedly costs the channel NIS 140,000 per month just to pay the salaries of the two “stars.” It is interesting to note that from the outset, Moti Kirschenbaum was one of the directors of the Eden Broadcasting company that formed Channel 10 at the time. Channel 10’s salaries forced other vendors, including the Israel Broadcasting Authority, to do the same. It goes without saying that these high IBA salaries are footed by the tax-paying public.

Making ends meet requires income from advertising. Since Channel 10’s ratings were half those of Channel 2 even at the best of times, the advertising income was insufficient. The channel started cutting corners and the first sacrifice was quality Israeli programming, in violation of the commitments that had been made when obtaining the concession. Things went from bad to worse. Enabling Channel 10 to compete on even footing with Channel 2 by allowing it to broadcast terrestrially through the Idan Plus digital system from 2008 onwards did not create the necessary change in balance. Starting from 2009, the channel was under constant threat of closure, due to the large financial deficits.

Israel’s Media Watch repeatedly suggested closing the channel at the time, to allow other players to enter the field and do a better job in administration as well as in programming. The Knesset Economics Committee threatened to close it down in 2010. However, due to public pressure, mostly by the Israeli media, which claimed that closure would harm Israel’s democracy and its free press, the committee backtracked, giving the channel a further lifeline until 2012. Now that 2012 is here, the channel is still insolvent and is again using the threat of closure and the firing of hundreds of employees to convince the government to provide a further delay in the date for paying the fees.

But something has changed. Even Channel 10’s fiercest competitor, the Channel 2 concessionaires Reshet and Keshet, are supporting Channel 10 and demanding that the government further delay its payments for at least a year. Are they being altruistic? Is the democratic need for a pluralistic media really behind their motives? Do they really want a competitor? Is the media’s portrayal of the closure of the channel as a kiss of death to Israel’s TV pluralism to be taken at face value? Of course not. The true story is somewhat different. The law was changed in 2010. Broadcasting licenses are to replace broadcasting concessions. The difference in principle could be huge. Concessions, by their nature, limit the number of participants, whereas licenses may be issued to anyone who can fulfill the licensing conditions.

Unfortunately, these conditions are still draconian, imposing content and financing burdens that are rather difficult to fulfill.

The Second Authority for TV and Radio (SATR) was one of the major players in this change. It played a self-serving role and is one of the main reasons why the licensing conditions are so forbidding. It wanted to assure its own status and power in controlling the various stations.

The shift to licensing is, though, a step in the right direction. The SATR called upon the public to submit requests for licenses by January 1, 2012, that would then be granted from January 1, 2013. The big surprise – Keshet of Channel 2 and Channel 10 were the only ones to participate.

There is a small problem, though; to get a license one needs a clean bill of health and the licensee must show that it has fulfilled its commitments in the past.

This brings us to the present.

Channel 10 wants a license but is in arrears in payments to the state and is asking for more time to pay. At the same time, the Channel 2 concessionaires, perhaps justifiably, claim that if Channel 10’s debts are given a reprieve then they should not be forced to pay on time either. If these demands are accepted then we will have groups asking for licenses and unable to get them, since neither one has fulfilled its obligations. Necessarily, both would then continue broadcasting as concessions at least for another year past January 1, 2013.

Things couldn’t be better for them. The licensing law aiming to drum up more competition would die a natural death. No licenses could be issued and the two concessionaires would continue dominating the airwaves with their rather cheap and sometimes downright unethical programming.

Caring for the public, for pluralistic culture and democracy, is probably the last thing on their minds.

This, then, is the background. The SATR’s mandate is to increase pluralism, so it is trying to force Channel 10 to either keep its commitments (the owners would need to cough up the money) or close.

Channel 2 would be given a license starting January 1, and the SATR would hope that others would join in the near future.

But all of this is wishful thinking. As long as the SATR’s rules for obtaining licenses are so forbidding, no one in his right mind would shell out more money on a TV license. SATR should be the first one to learn from this fiasco: that its rules, meant to perpetuate the SATR’s bureaucratic stranglehold on the TV station, must be changed.

Obtaining a TV license should be made simple. At the same time, Channel 10 should not be artificially resuscitated. It has done enough damage to the idea that more TV stations would provide more plurality to Israel’s media. True broadcasting pluralism may be found today in the Internet, where there are no regulations at all. This will ultimately be the case, but if the government gives in to the false media outcry again and gives Channel 10 another reprieve, it is the public that will continue paying for the excesses.

^

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August 23, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: Iran and Israel’s extreme left-wing media

Posted in Media tagged , , , , at 11:07 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Iran and Israel’s extreme left-wing media

By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 22/08/2012

Our suggestion: let the news speak for itself. Our media “experts” should stick to reporting the facts. That is the professional, the democratic and the lawful way for them to do their job.

On Tuesday, during an interview by a sports reporter a politician commented that: “political reporters are a lot like sports reporters. They’ve all got opinions, even if they never played.” That politician was US President Barack Obama, and the interview was broadcast over the Des Moines, Iowa, KXNO sports radio. In Israel, the term we would use would surely be “kibitzing.” But there’s a multi-pronged barb in Obama’s words, which are applicable to our local media and those who run it.

As we understand it, this political contender for office knows well that reporters are not objective. It is only a matter of the degree to which they insert not only wrong information, through sloppy work or otherwise, but a bit of bias, whether through omission or commission. In addition to opinions that sometimes insert themselves into the reporting of news, there is also the lingering concern as to whether reporters are truly knowledgeable about their beats. Are they sufficiently experienced “players” who can take to the field to compete not only with rival journalists but also with the people and events they cover?

This last point is especially relevant to the tom-tom beating that has been going on, at ever-increasing volume, in certain media quarters covering the possibility that Israel’s government may be forced by circumstances to employ military alternatives to curb the nuclear weapons program of Iran.

Iran is the country whose supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, recently announced that Israel will disappear from the “landscape of geography” and that its land will be returned to the Palestinians.

A few days later, on the occasion of Al-Quds Day, he characterized Israel’s administration of the disputed territories and, for good measure, the formation of Israel as the root of evil in the Middle East, which was a “conspiracy [of] colonialists and oppressors.”

This past Friday, in a speech marking Iran’s Quds Day broadcast on state television, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke of “the Zionist regime and the Zionists” as “a cancerous tumor.” And he added that the nations of the region will soon finish off the “usurper Zionists” and that “in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists.”

The Israeli media’s response to the Iranian challenge is perhaps surprising. Haaretz, not known as a great fan of either Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Ehud Barak, outdid itself over the past few weeks in presenting a fair and rather comprehensive picture of the dilemma created by Iran for Israel’s political leadership. Its headlines were typically factual. Some examples are in order.

On August 1 it was: “Netanyahu: the political leadership will decide whether to attack Iran.”

On August 3: “Estimates – an attack will set back Iran by a year or two.”

Another large headline on August 7: “Iran is in an advanced stage in its nuclear program.”

On August 10: “Senior Israeli: Iranian sword at our neck is sharper than the situation in 1967.”

Two days later it was: “Iran has made progress in the development of nuclear warheads.”

Compare these to Yediot Aharonot’s coverage.

Its headlines during the same period went as follows: “Cabinet Ministers: we are not kept up to date [on Iran]”; “Saudi Arabia: We will shoot down Israeli planes on their way to Iran”; “Netanyahu and Barak have decided to attack Iran in the fall”; “Is Israel prepared for an attack against Iran? – unprepared for war”; “The atomic error of Ehud Barak”; “US Chief of Staff: Israel cannot destroy Iran’s nukes.”

DOES YEDIOT really know what the prime minister’s plans are? Have they become mind readers? Israel’s media consumers should be asking whether Yediot’s criticism is based on facts supplemented by analysis or whether it is just the result of ideological opposition; that whatever decision Netanyahu makes, military, economic or social, is to be countered in editorials, columns and even news stories?

One response to this was given by Defense Minister Barak in the Knesset when, in referring to a strike on Iran, he said, “The decision, if it is required, will be made by the government, and not by a group of citizens or editorial articles.”

A poll conducted by New Wave for Yisrael Hayom found that 83 percent of the public think there is too much chatter on the matter of Iran. One left-of-center personality, Hebrew University professor Shlomo Avineri, was honest enough to point out that “things several writers and journalists have said on this issue are infuriating, and they are a dangerous sign. They have no place in a democratic state.”

Some of the foreign media have also demonstrated rather unprofessional standards. Richard Silverstein, Tikkun Olam blogger who previously revealed Anat Kam’s name, was defined as a “well-informed source who has been very accurate” by Judith Miller, a FOX News contributor.

The BBC granted Silverstein an interview, elevating him to the status of kibitzer-plus. This followed Silverstein’s claim that he had published a secret official document, received from a reliable source, detailing Israel’s plan of attack against Iran. It just so happens that this “secret document” was publicized four days earlier on the Israeli “Fresh” website (fresh.co.il) and that moreover it was written by a user of the website who openly clarified that the plan of attack was nothing but his imagination.

So, what have we? “Much ado about nothing.”

Yediot knows no more or less than Haaretz, Yisrael Hayom or The Jerusalem Post about the Iranian issue. The central difference is that Yediot does not seem to know how, or perhaps does not care to distinguish between news and views.

It uses the Iranian issue as a springboard to attack the present Israeli government. It would seem that the Iranian issue has brought with it a fundamental change in the balance of Israeli new outlets. At least here, Yediot has outflanked Haaretz to the left. It has replaced the principle of vox populi vox dei (the voice of the people is the voice of God) with vocem nostram deus est vox (our voice is that of God) and is attempting to force on Israel’s society a media putsch of the minority.

As Avineri openly admitted: “It is regrettable to see that now those questioning democratic authority are personalities from the Left.”

IN FACT, everything being said now in the media is rather meaningless. If the government attacks Iran and is successful, then all those in the media who are criticizing the government today will take the credit, claiming that it was their warnings which assured that the government acted responsibly. And if heaven forbid such an attack fails, then no matter what one thinks, the Netanyahu government will be replaced – but this would be the least of our worries. And if the government decides to do nothing, we will be facing a nuclear Iran, and these same critics will criticize the government for not taking action on time.

Our suggestion: let the news speak for itself. Our media “experts” should stick to reporting the facts. That is the professional, the democratic and the lawful way for them to do their job. And if they don’t, then we, the media consuming public, should stop listening to them.

^

August 15, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: The inattentive media

Posted in Media tagged at 10:37 pm by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: The inattentive media*

By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 15/08/2012

Is the media afraid Jewish presence on the Temple Mount would undermine their secular cultural and post-modern views?

This year, the Hebrew month of Av, with its three-week mourning period (beginning with the 17th of Tammuz fast) and the 25-hour Tisha Be’av fast, all connected with the destruction of the two Temples 2,500 years ago and 1,900 years ago, coincided with the Muslim month-long Ramadan. As a result, the media was full of reports on issues and incidents relating to the Temple Mount.

Here are a few examples: Jews were disintegrating foundations of the Aqsa mosque through the use of chemicals; Israel was burrowing under the Temple Mount compound in the area of the Mughrabi Gate; a group of youth movement demonstrators intended to march with signs bearing the slogan “the Temple Mount is in Our Hands” (made famous by Mordechai Gur after Jerusalem’s Old City was conquered during the Six Day War) but the signs were banned by police who claimed it constituted incitement; a tree fell over and Israel was blamed, again, due to underground excavations; hundreds of religious Jews who visited the site were described as “storming” the compound.

Then there was the discovery of scaffolding placed on the Foundation Stone as well as pails, shoes and other renovation materials strewn about, a clear case of religious desecration. The US State Department’s annual Religious Freedom Report included a note that “only Muslims are allowed to pray at the [Temple Mount/Haram A-Sharif]… [and] Non- Muslim religious symbols are not allowed to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”

Following an unexpected closure of the Temple Mount to Jewish ascent on the 9th of Av fast, MKs Arieh Eldad (National Union) and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) announced legislative moves to fix time and location arrangements permitting Jewish prayer at the site and, last but not least (or all), Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein’s letter to the Jerusalem municipality, the Jerusalem police and the Antiquities Authority was made public. The letter stated unequivocally that the Temple Mount is under Israeli law while the authorities must be “extra sensitive” in applying the law.

In June, a visiting Jewish student from the UK was told by a Wakf official to remove his kippa and in August, a Palestinian flag was flying from the Temple Mount. Over the past few months several Jews have been banned from entrance with no time limit fixed and no adequate judicial recourse provided.

HOWEVER, WE must make clear that by “the media is full,” we meant that the Arab-language media. The Hebrew-language press and the Israeli TV and radio broadcasting networks paid minimal attention.

Despite the criminal acts of desecration which in a normal country would lead to prosecution according to Paragraph 2 of the Law for the Protection of the Holy Sites, the blatant attempts by Muslims to agitate, incite and generate acts of violence against Jews and the quite obviously false claims of Jews harming the Mount – and the list above is only partial – Israel’s media hardly paid attention.

The whole issue was portrayed as affecting mostly the extreme right wing. The events were characterized more as an anomaly rather than a fundamental issue of civil liberties and religious freedom, basic rights that the law should guarantee and uphold.

Highlighted was MK Eldad’s suggestion, a reaction to the government’s proposal to slice up the Ulpana neighborhood houses, that the Muslim Temple Mount structures be similarly treated, but no serious panel discussion was conducted nor were government representatives grilled over the discriminatory police actions or their lack of response to the outlandish Muslim claims.

The Arabic-speaking population in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as well as the rest of the Arab world, was being fed a constant stream of invective.

Sheikh Raed Salah, banned from Jerusalem and who has been tried and convicted of funding Hamas, and of having contact with an Iranian intelligence agent, continued his anti-Jewish tirades.

Yet the biggest story in the Israeli press was the belated announcement of the discovery of hundreds of skeletons near the Temple Mount, although the ramifications of that discovery are more historical than current.

This past Sunday, Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, a senior imam at al-Aqsa Mosque, released a statement that the Aqsa Mosque, by which he means the entire Temple Mount compound, “is not subject to negotiation, and… the Jews have nothing to do with al-Aqsa Mosque.”

THE DECIDED lack of Israeli media interest in pursuing these stories, delegating them to the level of religious oddities, has two major effects.

The first is that when violence does break out, as in 1996 when the Hasmonean Tunnel opening caused riots or in 2000 when Ariel Sharon’s visit was wrongfully described as the cause of the second intifada, we are left in the dark. As researched by Dr. Dore Gold, media consumers have no true perspective or knowledge regarding the Muslim fanaticism that feeds a Temple denial attitude.

The second is that the Jewish side of the story is relegated to, at best, eccentricity status. It is presented to Israel’s populace as something insignificant and if it does make headlines, it’s the fault of the Jews.

As Giulio Meotti has pointed out, the Temple Mount is, since 1929, the major front in the effort by the Palestinians and Arabs to erase Jewish historical identity from the Land of Israel. Nevertheless, our media minimizes its magnitude as a reflection of the national struggle between Jews and Arabs.

Michael Freund on these pages was more specific in his accusations that “incidents that should have sparked outrage across the Jewish world but instead were met with stony silence… detestable acts of anti-Semitism elicited neither… a peep of public protest from world Jewish leaders or organizations.”

There is no question that this lack of reaction is at least partially due to the fact that the Israeli media downplays Temple Mount incidents against Jews.

The Israeli media prides itself and even demands special rights as the country’s watchdog. Why then does it react so sluggishly to the real discrimination and delegitimization of anything Jewish in the Temple Mount? Is that how responsible media acts in a democratic country? As we have witnessed during the same period, editors, if they so wish, are quite successful at creating agendas even on rather minor issues, such as Keren Neubach’s broadcasting woes, or Adar Cohen’s firing as civics supervisor for the Education Ministry.

The evidence from the media coverage this summer and the lack of interest by our media icons such as Amnon Abramovich, Ilana Dayan or Motti Kirschenbaum, as well as the self-appointed “guardians of democracy” such as the Israel Democracy Institute, the Association for Civil Rights or B’tselem, all indicates that they are wantonly ignoring the fundamental issue of freedom of religion for Jews and Christians on the Temple Mount.

Is the media afraid Jewish presence on the Temple Mount would undermine their secular cultural and post-modern views? Are our politicians impotent due to the media’s anti-Mount sentiments?

________

Original title was The Dismounted Media

^

August 9, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: Are ethics needed at the IBA?

Posted in Media at 8:04 am by yisraelmedad

Media Comment: Are ethics needed at the IBA?

By YISRAEL MEDAD AND ELI POLLAK, 08/08/2012

Should the IBA allow any personal-opinion programs? Should they be limited to presenters outside the IBA?

The Keren Neubach saga has led to a deep discussion at the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Dilemmas have arisen in the aftermath of the attempt to balance Keren Neubach, who hosts the daily morning program on Kol Yisrael’s Reshet Beth. As detailed last week, Neubach’s Seder Yom (The Day’s Agenda) is a personal-opinion program and Neubach is an employee of the IBA.

Should the IBA allow any personal-opinion programs? Should they be limited to presenters outside the IBA? If one allows for such programs, does one distinguish between those on TV and those on radio? How does one assure pluralism as the law obligates in such programs, or is it at all needed? There are those who believe that such a discussion is useless. On July 30, former director of Israel Television’s Channel One and current president of Bezalel, Arnon Zuckerman, revealed in a Haaretz op-ed his dissatisfaction with the law. In Section 3, paragraph 12, the Broadcasting Authority Law states that one of the Authority’s goals is “to strengthen democratic values, pluralism and tolerance.”

Section 4 of the Broadcasting Authority Law states: “The Authority will ensure that the broadcasts will give a suitable expression of different views and opinions prevailing among the public, and will broadcast reliable information.” This is the basis for the obligation to balance what goes over the airwaves.

ZUCKERMAN NOTES that the Fairness Doctrine in the United States was abolished in 1987 due to the multiplicity of broadcasters, which, he claims, brings with it almost automatic pluralism and balance. According to Zuckerman, the main question is who runs the IBA. If it is professionals, they know how to create good radio and TV and assure that the public gets the right mix of everything.

Nowadays, he claims, the IBA heads are political figureheads and nothing can be expected of them. Ethics, it would seem, does not interest him.

Zuckerman might have a point.

After all, the Nakdi ethics code, which was formulated in 1973, did not really affect Zuckerman and his cronies. By and large, the directors of the IBA did what they wanted. The IBA was never accused of being too balanced or pluralistic. So much so, that by 1994, the Knesset found it necessary to create the position of an IBA ombudsman as a public complaints commissioner. In 1996, the ombudsman was given real power, and for the first time, the heads of the IBA had to contend with the fact that the ombudsman could enforce the law and the ethics code on them. Amos Goren, as ombudsman during the years 2002-2007, imposed demands for balance which ultimately led to the departure of Amnon Abramowitz and Gabi Gazit from the IBA.

The ethics code of the IBA is modeled after that of the BBC. An almost sacred principle in journalism is the need to distinguish between news and views. Yet the general spirit emanating from the IBA Ethics Committee chaired by former justice Dr. Bilha Cahana, whose task is to update the Nakdi code, would allow senior reporters to color their reports with their personal opinions.

The committee seems also to be leaning towards formally installing within the IBA personal-opinion programs presented by IBA staff. The perception among the postmodernists, such as Tel Aviv University’s Communications Prof. Akiva Cohen who was chosen as an adviser to the ethics committee, is that there is no objectivity.

This naturally leads to the opinion that it is actually necessary for journalists to have programs which enable them to provide the public with their sagacious insight.

THIS ATMOSPHERE seems to be based on faulty information and contradicts some of the most basic elements of ethics in broadcasting in general, and in public broadcasting specifically. The Second TV and Radio Authority’s ethics code states: “The grantee shall clearly distinguish in the broadcasts been factual reporting, personal opinion, commentary or analysis of information.” The ethics code of Israel’s Press Council states “A newspaper and a journalist shall distinguish between news and views in their reports.” It is unthinkable that a reporter be allowed to color his factual report with his personal opinion, no matter how distinguished or well known.

Yet even the question of personal opinion programs is debatable. No doubt that personal-opinion programs enrich the viewer and listener. Israel has world leaders in many fields and it is a shame that these people are not heard more on our airwaves. Yet, there is a deep distinction between a personal program provided by someone who is not an employee of the IBA and someone who comes from within.

This is clearly established in the editorial guidelines of the BBC: “Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.”

Furthermore, “BBC staff and regular BBC presenters or reporters associated with news or public policy-related output may offer professional judgments rooted in evidence. However, it is not normally appropriate for them to present or write personal view [programs] and content on public policy, on matters of political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any area.”

The corporation for Public Broadcasting in the United States is of a similar opinion: “Public radio journalists may not use their professional affiliations to advocate for political or social causes. While we all have a stake in the well-being of our communities, the line should be drawn where journalistic credibility may be affected.

Well-known personalities must be especially sensitive to the appearance of advocacy.”

UNDERLYING ALL of this is the understanding that the public trust in the public broadcaster is tarnished if it presents its own position, especially on controversial issues. It is for this reason that the IBA’s present ethics codes.

The Nakdi document states: “The IBA does not broadcast editorial columns, it has no voice, no policy or opinion of its own. The main task of the news employees of the Authority is to bring facts without preparing in advance their implications.

They should be objective and neutral.”

It is this ethos that Cahana and her committee are about to abolish. If they succeed, the Israeli public will be poorer, less democratic and its public broadcasting authority will become meaningless to too many people.

It will lead to its dissolution.

^

August 2, 2012

MEDIA COMMENT: Neubach – should she go?

Posted in Media at 1:32 pm by yisraelmedad

Neubach – should she go?

By YISRAEL MEDAD, ELI POLLAK, 08/01/2012 22:31

The present code of ethics of the IBA still states that the IBA has no voice of its own.

The directors of the IBA decided that the Kol Yisrael morning radio program of Keren Neubach, The Day’s Agenda, which focuses on social and economic issues, needs to be co-anchored. They first chose journalist Menachem Ben for this slot, but the brouhaha against him was so great that he was forced to resign after two days on the job.

Kol Yisrael’s Director Miki Miro and the IBA’s CEO Yoni Ben-Menachem were accused of acting on the orders of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, thus politicizing the IBA and making unprofessional decisions. Ten members of the IBA plenum have called for a special convening of the plenum to deal with the situation and ostensibly overrule the decision of Miro and Ben Menachem.

Indeed, the decision has raised many fundamental questions concerning the IBA and its programs, but to appreciate the issue one needs to recount some history.

Neubach presents herself as a very knowledgeable person.

On October 5, 2011, she stated that “the coalition formed against Trachtenberg [author of the Trachtenberg report on social-economic reforms in Israel] is a coalition of foreign interests… I doubt whether there is any connection between the coalition and social justice.”

Over a year later, in a six-minute interview on November 13 – in which she did not let Likud MK Yariv Levine finish his answers once – she gave him some excellent advice that instead of trying to legislate a new method for selecting Supreme Court Justices, he should first establish a constitution, and in any case, his suggested legislation “is a change in the rules of the game and one cannot know who will be hurt by them tomorrow.”

Neubach is also an expert in economics. On January 30 she postulated: “The problem with the Finance Ministry youths is that they behave according to the weltanschauung of Binyamin Netanyahu. It is the ideological view of Netanyahu and he will defend it whenever.”

THE IBA Ombudsman Elisha Spiegelman noted that Neubach should make it clear that her opinions are personal and that she should take care to provide opposing opinions.

On a different occasion, July 18, 2011, Neubach noted the interesting point of view of journalist Ben Caspit that an important element underlying the social injustice is the huge sums of money spent on the settlements. Here too, there was no rebuttal.

Neubach’s morning program is not the model of balance the ethics code prescribes. For example, on September 15, when the topic of women’s singing in the army was “hot,” she interviewed three people under the title “The religious extremization in the IDF.” The three included journalist Amos Harel from Ha’aretz, General (res.) Elazar Stern and Rabbi Yuval Sherlow. All were of the same opinion, voicing their opposition to “extremization.”

Arie Peri, and many others, pointed this out to the Ombudsman whose answer was, “in the program, there was a clear bias, since no one was invited to represent the opinion that defends those who believe that… one should not listen to women singing… I can only notify the editors of the program and the presenter that the ethical demand for decency includes them as it does any employee of the IBA.”

These are but a few examples of why so many journalists in Israel would have us believe that Neubach’s radio program is a model of excellent radio programming, when it isn’t. Neri Livne wrote on July 27 in Ha’aretz: “She is a professional radio-person and a true journalist.

It is especially the latter quality which is anathema to those who are operating as the messengers of the Prime Minister’s Office.”

When it became known that Menachem Ben would co-anchor Neubach’s program, the IBA’s Arieh Golan, who also uses his microphone to pontificate, introduced Neubach by saying: “And now to Keren Neubach, the one and only.” In an article in Ynet, Ariana Melamed described Neubach’s program as: “A program dedicated mainly to social and political rights of any citizen of Israel.” The headline of Einav Schiff’s article in Walla states: “The IBA against Keren Neubach – total cynicism on the taxpayer’s account.”

THE ANTI-MANAGEMENT anger at the IBA is deep.

Journalists demonstrated against the change, the program was shut down for an hour and the saga is not over.

Yet, as noted by Globes veteran journalist Matti Golan, when Amikam Rothman was given an early pension and his Tuesday program ended, no one went on to the barricades.

Golan claims that the reason for this is that Rothman was not an identifiable representative of the Left, while Neubach is. Paradoxically, Neubach’s liberal supporters, championing social justice and economic equality, are actually demanding that Neubach be awarded a monopoly over the public airwaves to preach her specific cause.

This is all on account of the pocketbooks of the citizens, not all who identify with her political perspective.

The present code of ethics of the IBA still states that the IBA has no voice of its own. Had the IBA stayed true to its own principles, the l’affair Neubach would not have occurred. She would not have been allowed to use the public microphone to further her own views and there would not have been any need to find someone to balance her.

Indeed, the need to provide pluralism on the IBA is legally bound, but it simply is not heeded. We have in this column noted more than once that the IBA’s legal commentator Moshe Negbi is not balanced by someone with different views.

Arieh Golan’s biased comments and interviews are a similar reflection of the same problem. After over a year, Miro has at most made incremental changes in the makeup of the central players in Kol Yisrael.

SHOULD NEUBACH go? If the addition of a co-anchor is limited only to Neubach, then the detractors might seem to be justified in their criticism.

Why do they ask, “Is Neubach singled out?” But if the IBA does the right thing and provides pluralism and balance across the board and stops the everlasting (and repetitive) programs of people who have not been replaced or balanced in years, then the Neubach episode will be a step in the right direction.

It will lead to the removal of the present ideological bias that exists among the IBA’s journalists and show hosts, and being true to the letter of the law, provide the right mix of balance and pluralism.

If this happens, then Neubach can stay and we can all be thankful to her for bringing these issues to the forefront.

^