Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
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.
At best, the Hareidim have been eating “Heter Mechira”. At worse, they’ve been eating vegetables grown in sewer water or pesticides from unknown and unsupervised Arabs fields.
Israelis protest at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill train platform where an Arab terrorist ran over a group of commuters, killing a 3 month old baby. They are carrying signs, “Death to Terrorists”.
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has prohibited its personnel from riding the Jerusalem light rail train from French Hill to Pisgat Ze’ev, in northern Jerusalem, for 30 days because of the terrorist attack this week that killed a three-year-old American-Israeli. It was a typical U.S. Embassy reaction – every time there is a serious […]
Officials preach calm but are frantically trying tracing every step the doctor took in the city.
Former Presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney and former Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman will address the inaugural Israeli American Council (IAC) National Conference in Washington next month. The IAC’s stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel.” The number […]
Dozens of Arab rioters attacked Jewish owned buildings in Jerusalem’s Old City.
J Street U blames Jews buying homes in Jerusalem for triggering Hamas terrorist’s murderous rampage.
Boko Haram kidnapped an additional 20 Nigerian girls.
A healthcare worker has returned to the US from West Africa suffering with symptoms resulting in testing for the Ebola virus at NYC’s Bellevue Hospital.
Despite PM Netanyahu’s vow to “assert sovereignty” over all parts of Jerusalem, Arabs continue to carry out potentially lethal rock attacks.
Israel’s prime minister and the mayor of Jerusalem met today with security brass over the terror attack that wounded 8 and killed a 3-month-old baby.
For the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Boeing Aerospace and Defense has made a sale to Iran.
“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: