Israel / The government discusses the possibility of closing public television

Five months after reopening the Israeli public broadcasting service, currently known as Kan, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has said he wants to dismantle it once and for all.

Kan Israel

The Israeli press reported the content of a discussion between Netanyahu and his ministers at a coalition party meeting on October 15th. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri apparently suggested closing Kan, arguing that would save NIS500 million a year (€120 million). Benyamin Netanyahu allegedly approved the idea, saying it would be submitted during the negotiations on the 2019 budget.

According to Deri, Kan has had low audiences since it began broadcasting in May – apart from the radio stations which he wants to maintain.

Later in the day, Ayoub Kara, Israel’s Communication Minister, wrote on Twitter: “I am happy the Prime Minister has given his blessing to close the public broadcaster: an end to wasting public money.” This tweet has since been deleted and replaced by a new message: “The leaders of the coalition talked to me about closing the public broadcaster. I have spoken with the Prime Minister, and when a final decision is made on this, I will tell you about it.”

Faced with the outraged reactions of several opposition MPs and journalists’ associations, those close to Netanyahu have tried to defuse the controversy. Likud MP David Bitan said on the private channel Channel 2 that closing Kan “would not save money” and that the idea has been put aside.

Among the members of the government, only the Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, has expressed his opposition. He and Mr. Netanyahu came into conflict several months ago when the Prime Minister wanted to slow down the reform of public broadcasting.

Sources: The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, Hamodia

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