Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event
With the Knesset now in session, a highly controversial bill has drawn the ire of Knesset members, legal experts, media watchdog organizations, free speech activists and journalists.
The measure, called the “bill for the promotion and protection of the printed media in Israel” but informally known as the “anti-Israel Hayom bill,” is set to be brought before Israel’s powerful Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the coming weeks. The proposal seeks to outlaw daily newspapers in Israel whose business model includes free distribution to the general public.
There is little doubt that the bill’s initiators, from on both on the left and the right, are specifically targeting the Sheldon Adelson-owned newspaper Israel Hayom, whose free-distribution strategy has in recent years taken away a significant number of readers from its competition.
The text of the bill, submitted by MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) and co-signed by Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid), Robert Ilatov (Likud Beiteinu), Elazar Stern (Hatnua), Ariel Attias (Shas), and Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), claims that the measure seeks to “strengthen written journalism in Israel and ensure equal and fair conditions of competition between newspapers,” according to a Jerusalem Post translation.
But Professor Eli Pollak, chairman of Israel’s Media Watch (IMW), which calls itself the leading Israeli media watchdog organization, said the bill represents exactly the opposite of its stated goal.
“This legislation is anti-liberal and makes no sense in a free market where anyone can do what they want as long as it’s legal and ethical,” Pollak told JNS. “It’s fair competition. There is no reason to try and close [Israel Hayom] down or stop their way of working.”
MK Shaked recently admitted to a Channel 2 television interviewer that the bill “won’t pass.” Analysts suggested Shaked, along with her party’s chairman, Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett, initially supported the bill from the political right since it essentially targeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel Hayom has been accused of pro-Netanyahu bias.
“Israel Hayom is not a newspaper. It is Pravda,” Bennett said in March, referring to the Russian political newspaper associated with the Communist Party. “It’s the mouthpiece of one person, the prime minister.”
IMW’s Pollak said there is “no question the legislation is politically motivated.”He noted that “for years Yediot [Aharanot], which calls itself ‘the newspaper of the country,’ had a monopoly and nobody cared.”
“But,” he added, “when Yediot’s and Haaretz’s [market] shares went down and other newspapers including Israel Hayom and Makor Rishon went up, that posed a problem for those that don’t want right-wing opinions to be heard.”
A 2011 Target Group Index survey revealed that four years after its inception, Israel Hayom’s readership had surpassed that of Yediot – formerly Israel’s most widely read daily newspaper – with a 39.3-percent market share compared to Yediot’s 37 percent. Yediot remained the most-read weekend newspaper.
The latest TGI survey, released in January, showed Israel Hayomremaining the country’s most-read daily, with 38.6-percent readership (compared to 38.4 percent for Yediot) in the second half of 2013.
Pollak cites MK Cabel’s political bias in going after Israel Hayom. He said Cabel was responsible for shutting down Arutz 7, the right-wing radio station in Beit El that in 2002 was denied a broadcasting license and had its studios raided and broadcasting equipment confiscated.
On the other hand, when Israel’s Channel 10 television station “was going to be closed down when it didn’t meet its financial commitments, [Cabel] defended it,” Pollak noted.
“This is a very clear political game, which won’t succeed because it’s wrong,” said Pollak. “In a democracy with freedom of the press and freedom of business, this can’t go through.”
Yossi Fuchs, a Ramat Gan attorney with 15 years of experience in Israeli constitutional law, agrees the bill will never pass.
About the Author: Josh Hasten is president of the Jerusalem-based Bar-Am public relations firm. He and his family are moving to Gush Etzion this summer.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
In the wake of a 12th Israel-Gaza cease-fire, Britain’s Jews and Muslims have issued a joint call for peace.
The investigation shed light on the movements of the drug traffickers operating under Hezbollah’s direction in Lebanon and Israel.
Searchers for missing yeshiva student Aharon Sofer have found an unidentified body in the Jerusalem Forest.
No longer the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in as President of Turkey today. As a result, Erdogan will continue driving Turkey down his Islamic path for another 5 years, as Erdogan consolidates the power under the presidency. His foreign minister and ally, Ahmet Davutoğlu, will be taking over as Prime […]
IDF soldiers fired warning shots at a group of Gazans who approached the border fence near Nachal Oz. The group distanced itself from the fence, and there are no reports of injuries.
PLO official Nabil Shaath made the claim in an interview…
Only time PLO seems interested in justice for Palestinians is when Israel is involved
The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) has come under increasing fire in recent weeks for aiding Hamas in the terror group’s war against Israel, with one advocacy group lodging a formal complaint against the organization. As evidence seems to continue to emerge of the use of the agency’s schools and clinics as Hamas storehouses, […]
Jews in Mariupol, Ukraine are trapped as rebels, Russians and Ukraine forces advance towards their city to fight for control.
One Arab tried to infiltrate Israel and dozens stoned IDF troops over the Gaza security fence Thursday, as Gazans celebrated their “victory” over Israel by initiating low-level clashes near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. IDF forces responded with warning shots in the air. No injuries or property damage were reported.
Uzi Arad launches ferocious attack on Netanyahu, DM Ya’alon. Praises home front but says pols giving nothing but marketing spin.
For the third time in a week, an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down, this time in Iraq, near the Baghdad Airport.
An advocacy group has lodged a formal complaint claiming UNRWA has far exceeded its mandate by aiding and sustaining the psychological and physical assault on Israeli civilians and infrastructure.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations is demanding the world body take action against Hamas for its use of human shields.
“This legislation is anti-liberal and makes no sense in a free market where anyone can do what they want as long as it’s legal and ethical,” Pollak told JNS.
I was actually starting to believe I was the lucky charm of Sderot. Over the past eight months I had been to Sderot on business nearly every other week, and each time I traveled down from Jerusalem, things were quiet. No Kassam rockets, no “red color” warnings, no Israelis fleeing for their lives.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/bill-to-ban-free-israeli-newspapers-faces-strong-pushback/2014/05/21/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: