We previously reported about the uncertain future of Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest. What brought it about was the fact that the Israel Broadcasting Authority has been facing severe financial and image problems. The Knesset, the parliament of Israel, has been discussing the potential shutdown of the public broadcaster for quite a while now. Yesterday a final decision regarding the future of the IBA has been made.
IBA shutdown in March
With a majority of 45 to 11, the Knesset indeed voted in favour of a shutdown of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. However, this doesn’t mean the broadcaster will cease to exist. It was decided that the current broadcaster will be dismantled in March 2015 and a new television entity will be launched directly afterwards. Three TV channels (Hebrew, Arabic, children’s channel) and eight radio stations are in the works.
The reforms were outlined by Knesset member Karin Alharar who made the following statement after the vote:
We had one goal in mind — to create innovative public broadcasting where current public broadcasting is no longer perceived as relevant. The new law aims to improve [public broadcasting]. We don’t want to destroy anything, only to build something new.
Financial framework of the relaunch
It looks like the IBA will be radically downsized as well. 1,700 of the current employees will be fired whereas at least 190 of them will be recruited for the new channel. This decision has also provoked a lot of criticism as many have argued that the IBA journalists are doing an outstanding job reporting from the current conflict zones by even risking their lives.
The biggest change for the Israeli people will be the cancellation of the widely unpopular television fee. Instead the funding will come from the Ministry of Finance. In 2015 and 2016 the budget will be NIS 665 million (approximately 145 million euros) which will partly be financed by taxes and by selling some of IBA’s real estate.
What does this mean for Israel in Eurovision?
Statements concerning Israel’s future participation in the Eurovision Song Contest haven’t been made. At this point, anything regarding the contest is pure speculation. Considering the massive budget that is raised for the relaunch of the public broadcaster, there might not be enough money left for Israel’s participation in Eurovision. Israel dropping out in 2015 therefore seems likely and logical – especially considering the reform will take place in March which is just two months before the contest takes place.
However, a similar situation occurred in Greece last summer: The public broadcaster ERT was also shut down by the government and eventually relaunched as NERIT. As we all know, a participation in this year’s contest was ensured despite the precarious situation of the broadcaster.
What do you think? Will Israel take part in Eurovision next year despite a costly relaunch of a new public broadcaster? Share your thoughts in the comments below!