Journalists Gather in Tel Aviv to Support Kan Against Budget Cuts

On Sunday, top journalists in Israel gathered in Tel Aviv for supporting Kan television and radio, as the threat of shuttering down the Public Broadcasting Corporation in Israel has become very real.

The Likud party has threatened to shut down or privatize the Public Broadcasting Corporation for a long time and the new communications minister seems to be working on making it happen.

Emergency summit

The Union of Journalists in Israel organized the gathering, which represents employees of Kan partially and this ‘emergency summit’ was attended by more than 100 figures and journalists.

These people belonged to the local media industry and were protesting against any attempt to withdraw funding from Kan.

One of the most celebrated journalists in Israel, Ilana Dayan hosts ‘Uvda’, the primetime investigative show.

She said that any talks of putting public broadcast to an end should have never been brought up. She stated that some things are up for debate, but this is certainly not one of them.

Dayan does not work for Kan, but does host a show on Army Radio. She said privatizing public broadcasting is the same as killing it.

She added that doing so would mean that the engines of public conversation would also be destroyed.

The target

Kan is the current public broadcaster and had been introduced in 2017 after an extensive legal process for replacing the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

However, members of the Likud party have always been hostile towards Kan because they believe it is against their agenda.

In 2018, an agreement was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to divide Kan into separate entertainment and news division.

But, after Israel won the Eurovision contest in 2018, the agreement had been abandoned because it was a requirement to have an independent public broadcaster in order to host it in the next year.

The response

There have not been a lot of headlines regarding the opposition of the possible Kan closure because there have been more protests about the judicial overhaul plans of the new government.

Saturday night saw thousands of protestors take to the streets for the fourth week in a row to rally against the reforms.

Nurit Canetti, a senior journalist at Army Radio who is the chairman of the union, said that they intend to show their solidarity with the public broadcaster.

However, he also added that they would only determine their next steps after the government has come up proposals because there is nothing certain as yet.

Shlomo Karhi, the newly appointed Communications Minister, has shared his intention of renewing the fight of the Likud party against Kan, but has not submitted any legislation for this purpose.

The most likely route he will take to pull Kan’s funding is via the Arrangements Law, which is a bill usually passed with the state budget.

It usually highlights the numerous policy, institutional and structural reforms that are needed to add up the budget legislation numbers.

Canetti said that once the government clarifies its plans, the union would step up its fight in the courts, in the Knesset and also in public opinion.

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