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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Yisrael Hayom’

MKs and Ministers Trying to Kill the Free Press in Israel

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Israeli Ministers and Knesset members are coming out against the free market of ideas, and the free market as well, by proposing a bill that would potentially kill the popular and free Israeli daily print paper, Yisrael Hayom.

The paper is given out free in Israel, and has become the primary competitor to Arnon “Nuni” Moses’s Yediot Achronot, which leans more to the political left, though not as far left as Ha’aretz, which only has a minuscule market share in Israel.

Among those MKs proposing the bill that would try to shut down the paper are MKs Eitan Cabel (Labor), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), Elazar Stern (Hatnua), Ariel Attias (Shas) and Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid).

Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said today on a Galei Tzahal interview, that Yisrael Hayom is “Pravda“, and serves the interest of one person [the Prime Minister].

It is not clear to us what is stopping Bennett from convincing one of his own supporters to print a daily paper that would be pro-Bennett, or even improving his relationship with the religious-Zionist paper Arutz-7, so they’d give him better coverage in their free weekend paper.

Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid chairman), whose party supports the bill, used to write a column for Yisrael Hayom’s main competitor, Yediot.

Yisrael Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson, and typically takes a position that is pro whatever position PM Netanyahu recently put forward, though not always a right-wing position. It also publishes articles from those on the left side of the political spectrum. There is no denying that it is agenda driven, but name one newspaper that isn’t.

As an aside, Sheldon Adelson, may soon be purchasing the religious-Zionist paper Makor Rishon, after Makor Rishon over-extended itself financially with its purchase of Ma’ariv.

Some in the Likud say that Moses and Yediot are the driving force behind this bill.

The “Yisrael Hayom” law, as it is being called because it specifically only targets Yisrael Hayom, would require that the top four daily print papers charge fees relative to what the other daily print papers are charging – or more accurately no less than 70% of whatever the second lowest priced paper is charging.

To us, it looks like a blatant attempt to suppress the voices of political opponents and suppress freedom of speech and press in Israel.

Yediot has the same opportunity to build a different business model, take a different political line that is more palatable to most Israelis, or even accept that it won’t be number one in the market anymore.

The free Arutz-7 Shabbat print paper and the fee-based Makor Rishon have coexisted quite nicely for over a decade serving the Religious-Zionist market, each one with their own business model and message – proving that it can be done.

It appears that this is really an attempt to block the basic right for anyone to put down their soap box in the city square and freely express their opinion – if certain people are worried that that opinion is becoming too popular.

Eitan Cabel (Labor), one of the proponents of the bill, played a central role in shutting down the very popular right-wing religious Arutz-7 radio station.

Naftalki Bennett and Bayit Yehudi should really consider who its allies are in this fight and what it could mean for them next.

It appears that in Israel, those on the political left can’t stand that those on the political right have a voice that is heard, and those on the right are too short-sighted to see that suppressing both the free market and the free market of ideas is dangerous for all of us, and that is the real problem.

Makor Rishon Buys Maariv

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

As JewishPress.com first reported last Thursday, Shlomo Ben-Zvi, the publisher of the national-religious paper Makor Rishon announced the purchase of the struggling Maariv newspaper on Friday. Maariv is the 3rd largest paper in Israel. It was owned by Nochi Dankner and IDB, and had recently announced it would be going completely digital, except for the weekend editions.

The sale was for NIS 85 million shekels.

Ben-Zvi plans to retain only up 15% of the current Maariv staff, mostly editorial personnel.

Makor Rishon does not own a printing press and outsources its printing, and perhaps surprisingly, Ben-Zvi did not purchase Maariv’s printing press. Leaving open the possibility that Yisrael Hayom may still eventually purchase it.

Ben-Zvi lives in Efrat.

Is Sheldon Adelson Destroying Israel’s Newspapers?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

According to the Israeli financial website Globes, Sheldon Adelson is in advanced negotiations to purchase the Ha’aretz printing plant. The deal is believed to be in the order of $25 million dollars.

Over the past few months, Adelson’s free daily, Yisrael Hayom, has been searching for a new printing facility to replace the Ha’aretz plant where it currently prints its daily freesheet. Ha’aretz’s plant handles the printing for a number of different newspapers.

Adelson had recently been in negotiations with Nochi Dankner, a major shareholder and chairman of publicly traded IDB Group, Israel’s largest diversified business group with assets of more than $30 billion, to purchase Ma’ariv’s Levin Epstein Printing House. But that deal apparently fell through, striking a hard blow for Ma’ariv which is desperately strapped for cash. Ma’ariv has been looking to sell the printing plant and the land it sits on.

Many Israeli newspapers have been firing staff and “streamlining” these past few months. The right-wing Makor Rishon is one notable exception to the rule.

Globes reports that Ha’aretz announced it was firing 70 employees, some 32 from their own paper, and the rest from their financial daily, The Marker. Yediot Achronot will be firing dozens, many of them likely to be dropped from its website Ynet. Ma’ariv recently shut down its weekday print run, and fired 30 employees in June.

Yediot executives are blaming Adelson and Yisrael Hayom for destroying the Israeli newspaper industry, and more specifically, for destroying Ha’aretz and Yediot Achronot with the introduction of the free daily broadsheet.

A Newspaper That’s ‘Proud To Be Israeli’: An Interview with Yisrael Hayom Foreign Editor Boaz Bismuth

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

At a time when media pundits are calling daily newspapers “print dinosaurs,” Las Vegas casino mogul and Zionist philanthropist Sheldon Adelson tweaked the “experts” by investing millions of dollars in the creation of Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today), a free Hebrew-language tabloid newspaper that was launched on July 30, 2007.

Written off by the dominant local newspapers – including Yediot Aharonot, Maariv and Haaretz – as nothing more than a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Netanyahu, Adelson hired an all-star staff of respected editors, journalists and columnists, who created an alternative voice for the Israeli public.

By the end of 2008, Yisrael Hayom had not only succeeded in luring readers away from the aforementioned Israeli dailies, the paper announced a plan to increase circulation by offering free home delivery. A year later, Yisrael Hayom announced that circulation had surpassed 250,000 copies and a weekend edition would be launched to compete with the major dailies.

By early February 2010, more than 300,000 copies of the weekend edition of Yisrael Hayom were being printed and delivered across the country. With Yisrael Hayom’s circulation and advertising revenues climbing faster than anyone anticipated, at least two Israeli newspaper owners lobbied Knesset members to pass a law that would ban foreign ownership of any major Israeli media entity. The proposed law, aimed at undermining Adelson, stands almost no chance being passed.

Veteran Israeli journalist Boaz Bismuth, who has written for both Maariv and Yediot Aharonot in addition to serving as Israel’s ambassador to Mauritania (2004-2008), was recruited by Yisrael Hayom Senior Editor Amos Regev to serve as the paper’s foreign editor. In an exclusive interview with The Jewish Press, Bismuth spoke of the keys to Yisrael Hayom’s unprecedented success.

The Jewish Press: What was the lure of joining Yisrael Hayom, which was considered anything but a sure thing in the highly volatile Israeli newspaper market?

Bismuth: First of all, I had a unique opportunity to return to my beloved profession. Uniquely, I saw that the paper was able to easily recruit respected journalistic soldiers such as Dan Margalit (Maariv, Channel 10). So I look at myself as a lucky editor who joined the paper on September 16, 2008. That was the day when people packed their bags at Lehman Brothers in the midst of the economic crash, while I became part of something new and different. We became a symbol of sorts for the newspaper industry, which was and still is having problems.

What was different about the Israeli newspaper marketplace that allowed Yisrael Hayom to put down firm roots?

From day one, the object was to create a free paper that was a fast read and interesting, though we did not want a paper that would be read and thrown away in five minutes. Immediately, we saw that readers appreciated the paper. When people in Tel Aviv, the key to the newspaper market in Israel because of the population that lives and works in the metro region, were changing their reading habits by taking the time to read the paper in a coffee shop, at home or at work, we knew that the paper was having an impact.

The editors of Haaretz, Maariv and Yediot openly criticized Sheldon Adelson for allegedly creating a paper with an agenda – namely, supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How do you respond to this criticism?

The criticism leveled against Yisrael Hayom is hypocritical and cynical. Every newspaper has an agenda. Does one really think Adelson created the paper as a philanthropic venture? No one in the local newspaper industry is a philanthropist. Do the editors of the other papers or readers truly believe Adelson has the time for influencing daily editorial policy at the paper? If he does, he’s Superman.

I can tell you from having worked at major Israeli newspapers in the past, Yisrael Hayom is an extremely professional operation. Every evening, the editors choose from a variety of articles and editorials to publish. This is the business of true professionals. You don’t think the paper publishes stories that are critical of the Netanyahu government? Of course it does. I’m proud to be a part of this enterprise.

So the claim that Yisrael Hayom is imposing its editorial will on readers is journalistic sour grapes?

We have a created a new economic model for newspapers that has spurred a revolution in the marketplace. It’s a model that functions well and people like the paper. If we are imposing our will on the public, then how come there is an additional waiting list of nearly 50,000 people who want daily home delivery? I’m revealing this as a scoop. Circulation is already over 250,000 copies during the week. Thanks to my opponents’ crying and their criticism, I can see how well I’m doing my job at the paper.

But that hasn’t stopped people associated with Yediot and Maariv from trying to get Knesset members to pass a law banning foreign ownership of newspapers, which was obviously aimed at Adelson.

When, where do we put the limit? It’s an outrageous, anti-democratic law. Ironically, it’s OK for Knesset members and other members of the Israeli business community to accept investments and donations from Jews in the Diaspora. It’s OK for Diaspora Jews to purchase shares in Bank Leumi, or a controlling interest in Israel Discount Bank. But to invest and participate in the market of public opinion in Israel it’s not OK?

Trust me, if Yisrael Hayom were a flop, none of this would have ever been discussed. The other papers feel threatened. Yediot was considered a monopoly for years. Maariv has been in financial trouble for a while. Ironically, when Adelson was originally in negotiations to buy Maariv, the owners made him out to be the Vilna Gaon. Now they make him out to be like some Saudi sheikh.

Is some of the opposition due to ideological differences?

Yisrael Hayom is not a “stylish” left-wing newspaper. The difference is that we promote the fact that we are proud to be Israeli. And, thank God, we have Zionists abroad who take an interest and want to invest in the Israeli economy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/a-newspaper-thats-proud-to-be-israeli-an-interview-with-yisrael-hayom-foreign-editor-boaz-bismuth/2010/03/03/

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