Second Broadcasting Authority considering temporary Channel 10 blackout

The Second Broadcasting Authority Council, which supervises commercial channels 2 and 10, convened on Tuesday to discuss the situation at recently launched Channel 10, which owned by Israel 10. The council decided to substantially ease the terms and conditions for the channel's operation.

This way the council hopes to save competition between the two commercial channels, Channel 2 and Channel 10, and prevent the new channel's collapse. The license terms include a quota of original productions, quotas for foreign programs, drama, documentaries and feature films.

The council will not initiate easing requirements and will wait until it is approached by Channel 10. The council is hoping that within half a year the Channel 10 managers will complete their commitments as set in the tender.

Council CEO Samuel Shem-Tov told TheMarker that this is the first time that the council understands it is important for the two channels to compete with each other. He said that for this reason the council is willing to grant Israel 10 shareholders several months' grace. He said that should the investors tell the council they cannot meet their commitments, the council will not be able to force them to inject more capital, or even to stay invested in the channel.

But Shem-Tov believes that the present state of affairs is very bad, given estimates that businessman Alfred Akirov and the Israel Phoenix don't want to inject more capital. Shem-Tov noted that the channel has been broadcasting for just three weeks of its 10-year franchise. He criticized investors for trying to shirk responsibility.

A senior source in Eden Broadcasting, the second franchisee in Channel 10, said that the group is concerned about Channel 10, and is closely following developments. The source said that also Eden shareholders considering retreat.

A number of council members in the meeting suggested that Channel 10 go off the air for a few months reorganization, at least until the second franchisee, Eden Broadcasting, is prepared to go on the air in June. Shem-Tov said that is the mood among some council members, but the majority support continued broadcasts. "If they go off the air now, they will not return, which will be bad for the Israeli media market for a very long time, including a destructive impact on the other channels on the way."

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