Ron Lauder, the dominant shareholder in troubled Israeli television Channel 10, has signed a draft agreement with the state. At a press conference in Tel Aviv today, Lauder spoke of his doubts about remaining invested in the channel, and said that the welfare of its employees was what tipped the scales, and that he chose to sign on the outline arrangement proposed by the Locker committee, even though it was "not optimal".
"I decided to come to Israel at the beginning of September to make a decision. My decision then rested on the position that if there were no change I would close at the end of September," Lauder said. "Yesterday too, I debated whether to close or not. I read the latest draft of the settlement. It's not ideal, but it's better than what there was six months ago. It's not something that it's possible to make money out of. I wondered, should I go or stay? At the end of the day, because of the 600 employees who would lose their jobs, I decided this morning to sign the draft settlement with Channel 10," Lauder said, and demonstratively signed the agreement. "One signature isn't enough," he added, "If the state doesn't sign, the channel will close on December 31. I believe that they will sign."
Under the agreement, the channel's franchise will be extended for three years, and Lauder will have to invest a further NIS 80 million at least during that period.
The press conference was attended senior figures from Channel 10, among them chairman Avi Balashnikov, finance committee chair Michal Grayevsky, and CEO Yoav Heldman, as well as senior journalists and employees of the channel.
"I have 25 channels in Eastern Europe. None of them has the regulation that there is in Israel," Lauder said. "I checked with colleagues around the world; nowhere is there regulation like this. Three years ago, our colleagues Milchan and News Corp. stopped investing because of these regulatory laws. I knew that if I left it would mean the closure of the channel. I want to congratulate Yossi Maiman, who is still in the channel despite the difficulties. I thank Avi Balashnikov and Michal Grayevsky, who have updated me with the details over the past year and a half. Every day, the arrangement sounds completely different. I want to congratulate the employees of Channel 10 and Nana 10. I take my hat off to you."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 2, 2012
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