The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is backing protest demonstrations in support of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA) led by the Jerusalem Journalists Association, a group within the National Federation of Israeli Journalists, which is an IFJ affiliate.”
Journalists and other media staff are angry that their working rights are being threatened as well as the rights of Israeli citizens to an independent public broadcaster,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. ” We fully support our Israeli colleagues because Israel, like any other vibrant and democratic society, needs public service broadcasting, free of political and commercial interference. It is particularly important for a broadcaster that addresses a fragmented audience representing different languages and communities inside and outside the country.”
The IBA faces closure following difficult relations between staff and management. The crisis at the IBA in recent weeks had prevented satellite broadcasts and telephone interviews outside the studios. The broadcaster’s problems are compounded by tense relations between the IBA and the Finance Ministry and other parts of government that consider that public broadcasting is no longer necessary in the country.
“A public broadcaster is a must if we want to touch and investigate serious issues without political or commercial interference,” said the newly-elected Chairman of the Jerusalem Journalists’ Association Dany Zaken.
A broad coalition of supporters of the IBA, from the media, art, politics and civil society movement, recently held a demonstration outside Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv to protest against the threats of closure of the IBA. Another demonstration was held in Jerusalem in front of the Knesset, with leading parliament members from all parts of the political map coming out to join and show support. Israeli President Shimon Peres also spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Ofer Eini, the head of the Histadrut labor federation in order to find a way of the crisis of public broadcasting in Israel.
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide