In order to avoid losing the hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Tuesday to push for canceling his own party’s legislation that splits Israel’s public broadcasting corporation into two separate authorities, one for news, the other entertainment.
The split was part of Likud’s efforts to cut down on leftwing voices in Israel’s public channels, or as Culture Minister Miri Regev put it at the time: “Why set up a new broadcasting corporation if we don’t control it?”
The 180-degree flip came because of the fact that Israel, which won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, has earned the right to host the 2019 event in Israel, and the fear that a split corporation would not be accorded the right to producing the contest. The European Broadcasting Union has made it clear several times over that in order to host the Eurovision, a national broadcasting corporation must also broadcast news.
In a discussion with Minister of Communications Ayub Kara, Minister Miri Regev, Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and legal officials stressed that the split law would therefore harm Israel’s chances to host the Eurovision. As a result, Netanyahu’s ministers agreed the broadcasting corporation’s bill had to be amended.
Last Thursday, Israeli media reported that the High Court of Justice had ordered government to submit within a week its updated position on the corporation’s split. The court was hearing several petitions against the split.
MK Eitan Cabel (the Zionist camp) petitioned the Court to speed up its ruling on the matter, and to compel the state to announce its position on the matter of splitting the corporation by this coming Thursday.
“The splitting of the corporation was a serious mistake by Netanyahu as communications minister,” Cabel argued. “I am certain that the government wants the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Israel and therefore it will announce that the splitting of the corporation should be canceled.”
Cabel vowed: “I will not rest until the decision, whose sole purpose was to control public broadcasting, is canceled, paving the way for the Eurovision Song Contest being held in Israel.”