The legislation is expected to pass later this year and be implemented in 2024.
Israel’s major broadcasters, Keshet 12, Reshet 13, and Kan, have united to launch a collective initiative against the government’s latest media bill, forming the Israeli TV Channels Forum to counter anticipated threats to media independence and press freedom resulting from the reform.
In a joint announcement, the three networks expressed concerns about the government’s intentions behind the bill, championed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi. They fear the government’s potential influence over the media landscape following contentious judicial reform. The proposed changes involve reducing local content requirements, establishing a new regulatory body with government-appointed members that could interfere with Israeli content, eliminating the need for independent broadcasting news licenses, and placing oversight of rating data under a government committee.
The newly-formed forum is resolute in its commitment to employ all available means to prevent any form of takeover of Israeli media. Although specific strategies were not outlined, the forum underscored the unprecedented risk of having a political entity controlling news and television in Israel, an approach uncommon in democratic societies. Concerns were also raised about the bill’s potential economic implications, suggesting that it benefits certain media entities while encroaching upon the rights of free channels and detrimentally affecting local production and the music industry.
The group had already released a joint statement opposing the bill the previous month. In response, Karhi’s department argued that the proposal would bolster competition and fortify freedom of speech, describing opponents as “media monopolies with vested interests in maintaining a closed market.”
“This proposed piece of legislation is aimed at alleviating congestion and removing all redundant government regulation from the market. In fact, the legislation is explicitly designed to not intervene in any content while opening up the market, essentially enabling more players to enter the market, therefore directly increasing the aspect of freedom of speech,” a spokesman told Deadline last week.