Drahi asks Netanyahu to air i24News in Israel

Patrick Drahi: The regulator allows Al-Jazeera to be aired in Israel, but blocks Israeli news.

Hot Telecommunication Systems Ltd. (TASE: HOT.B1) owner Patrick Drahi has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow the broadcasting of his Israeli satellite news station i24News in Israel.

i24News is broadcast worldwide in English, French, and Arabic. It is neither available in Israel by Hot's cable network or by satellite broadcaster DBS Satellite Services (1998) Ltd. (YES) nor on DTT Idan+ for purely regulatory reasons.

At a press conference two weeks ago, Drahi said, "I don’t understand the regulatory logic that allows Al-Jazeera to be aired in Israel, but blocks i24News."

i24News's studio is the old Jaffa Port Customs House, and its news desk has hundreds of employees. Drahi has invested millions of shekels in the venture, and its business model is unclear, but he apparently considers it a business opportunity.

i24News is an international Israeli news and current affairs channel that provides a balanced account of events in the country, and its audience is global, and not just Jews. The channel is supposed to profit from advertising, but if it is not broadcast in Israel, and until it secures a critical mass of viewers, its budget will be dependent on Drahi's support. He plans the channel to be the platform for a local news station.

i24News is not aired in Israel because of rules set by the Cable and Satellite Television Broadcasting Council, which seek to prevent ownership of both television stations and broadcasters. The separation of content and infrastructure is intended to keep the stations independent of the cable and satellite broadcasters.

The Prime Minister's Office spokeswoman declined to respond to the report.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 20, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014

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