"Until now, Channel 10 News enjoyed exceptional freedom of the press. That was the way of the company, its ethos, and why we aired so many important exposes in the past few years. To our great disappointment, this path suffered a grievous blow in the past few days," says Channel 10 News senior commentator Raviv Drucker.
In January, Channel 10 News weekend edition "HaShavua" aired an in-depth report on Sheldon Adelson, a shareholder in the station, as well as the owner of Hebrew daily "Israel Today", and a close friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Adelson was angered by the report, and demanded a retraction. Last week, Channel 10 news aired an apology over the objections of its editor Reudor Benziman, who resigned in protest. "HaShavua" editor Ruthie Yovel and presenter Guy Zohar have also resigned.
Drucker sent his protest opinion piece to Channel 10 chairman Yosef Maiman, shareholder Ron Lauder, CEO Yosef Warshevski, Channel 10 News director Yoram Schechter, and to Second Television and Radio Broadcasting Authority chairman Ilan Avishar and director general Menashe Smira.
Drucker added, "It is hard to explain how much these incidents worry and anger us. We fought to save this station and the news company both because they are our livelihoods and because we feel a duty toward our position in Israeli society."
The statement sets out Channel 10 News' five principles:
- The media must apologize for an error in a broadcast.
- No apology should be forced on the media. The ability to criticize powerful institutions and persons is directly linked to the willingness to fight for the truth in court.
- We thank this station's shareholders who are prepared to support it financially. Thanks to their support, this was the first time that an apology was made, but it must also be the last time. We all feel that if we are not sure that is the last time, it will be very hard for us to continue to fight for every report and every broadcast.
- We think that this station and the news company have no right to exist unless every viewer knows that what he hears from the news staff is what they think and not what they have been directed to say.
- We expect that all the parties involved in the management of Channel 10, from the board of directors to the executives, shareholders, and the Second Broadcasting Authority, will make it unequivocally clear that the news company's freedom of expression will be maintained, and that the new CEO will be appointed solely on the basis of professional and pertinent criteria.
Responding to Zohar's resignation, Smira said today, "The events of the past few days at Channel 10 and Channel 10 News undermine the foundations of commercial broadcasting at Channel 2 and Channel 10 in their current format. The public interest, as reflected by the Second Broadcasting Authority, is suffering a strong shock, since on one hand is positioned freedom of expression, journalist independence, credible and unbiased news, the importance of the investigation and its confirmation, and the standing of the editor. On the other hand is the risk of the closing of the station if its owners stop financing, ending broadcasting competition, loss of an alternative, and loss of view choice."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 11, 2011
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011