Sunday, February 28, 2010

There MUST be a public broadcasting authority in Israel

It seems to be worldwide - government stations in Britain, South Africa and New Zealand to mention just a few are making drastic cutbacks to their programmes or their websites.

Here in Israel we have the Israel Broadcasting Authority. I won't go into the argument of all the salaries that are/were being paid, and the license fee etc, but what I do want to ask is, is their a need for such an authority? My answer is absolutely YES! Maybe not the IBA of today, but some sort of body that can run public radio and TV stations.

As this blog is about radio, I will keep off the subject of the IBA's Channel 1 TV station. As important as it is - and it is VERY important, I will concentrate on radio.

Today there are eight government run radio stations:- Networks A,B,C,D, a religious station, a station for immigrants, a classical music station, and 88FM. Most, not all, have commercials to support themselves, but not all of the stations have the listenership to actually pull the advertisers in in the first place.
Every station has its place amongst the Israeli public, whether it be Reshet Bet (Network B) which is a current affairs station, and probably the most popular nationwide station in Israel to the Immigrant station, the classical music station, the Arabic station, and last but not least, the cult music station 88FM. All have their own loyal listeners, but probably not enough to maintain themselves financially. It would be fair to say that if the above stations were local commercial radio stations, most, if not all would have closed by now.
But they are not, and because of this they are still broadcasting today. It is not just the financial aspect that keeps them on air, but the idea of broadcasting to the public without looking over their shoulder all the time. There have been many efforts to close down the classical music station, 88FM, and merge others. But those efforts failed.
Public broadcasting HAS to continue, whether it is to be under the umbrella of the Israel Broadcasting Authority or some other body is not important now. There has to be an alternative to the local - sorry - REGIONAL radio stations. I remember the first day of broadcasting of the regional radio stations back in 1995, and they all promised programmes with local content, local news, local talent etc etc - I even have it on tape! Where are those promises today? Not many of the regional stations are living up to them.
Quality public broadcasting is a must - also on TV. A lot of people complain about Israel TV's Channel one, but what is the alternative - Big Brother? The Beauty and the Geek, A Star is Born (Israels American Idol), Making a joke from work ( צחוק מעבודה) . The Weeks End (שבוע סוף)
I rest my case

1 comment:

Tim said...

Agreed entirely, Mike. The licence fee has been reduced considerably since I've been here, and that really shows in the standard of the output.

You could make an argument for rationalising the stations. It's never been entirely clear what Reshet A is for, apart from part-time hosting of Moreshet. The remainder of the content could be merged into the other stations. They could also do what the BBC did, and open themselves up to content from outside production companies.