When Minister of Communications Gilad Erdan asked me to serve at the head of the special committee for the establishment of a public broadcasting corporation, I politely thanked him and refused.
“I don’t believe in the concept,” I told my surprised friends. “It is just a rehash of the Public Broadcasting Authority and it will end in the same way.”
When I hear the words “public committee,” “public broadcasting,” “public company,” “public corporation,” and the like, I break out in a rash. Those terms are nothing more than deception. Nothing makes veteran broadcasters Karen Noibach or Razi Barkai more “public” than any other citizen. The only truly public entity that I know of is the free market; in other words, the public itself.
Due to the fact that the Knesset is elected by the free market, the Knesset is the only entity in Israel that can be called public. All the rest, with no exceptions, are agendas, interests, and power plays – anything but faithful representation of the public, anything but public. There is no better proof of this than the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu is attempting to kill the broadcasting corporation. Whether or not he succeeds, the prime minister is showing us that the “public” corporation is a creature that exists thanks to the politicians; it is funded by them and will thus always be vulnerable to their whims and pressure.
The alternative to the Broadcasting Authority is not to rebuild the same mistake. Instead, it is Zehut’s proposed Open Skies law. The following is from the Zehut platform: Israel’s media is not truly open. In order to broadcast, one needs a “franchise” or in other words, authorization from the state. With many and varied excuses (lack of frequencies, endangerment of overhead flights), “Big Brother” erects roadblocks and supervision on the dissemination of information and open discourse in Israel.
The commercial channels are not private or open either. The public outrage that an internal comment of the CEO of Channel 10 evoked highlights just how much the political system is involved in the content of these channels. The commercial channels are free to make money. But when they lose money, the loss is imposed upon the taxpaying public. This arrangement will last as long as these channels continue to serve those who gave them the franchise.
Israel’s media must be truly open. Under Zehut’s plan, all that will be required to broadcast on radio or television is a fee to pay for the frequency. Aside from the limitations already on the law books (slander, security information, pornography and the like), there will be no limit on broadcasting content.Moshe Feiglin