Don¿t even try to understand from this morning¿s complicated financial news stories what happened yesterday in the Knesset Finance Committee. The long, complex items mention franchises, and licenses, and cross-ownership, and lead legislation, and the Economic Arrangements Law, first and second readings, and a long list of legislative procedures and financial and legal terminology.
You only need to understand one thing that Enron investors learned the hard way three months ago. If something is complicated, it is not a coincidence. Complexity serves someone¿s purposes, someone who doesn¿t want you to know what¿s going on there. The complexity is a smoke screen hiding the MKs, members of the Finance Committee and Communications Ministry officials as they hand over to the tycoons perpetual license to control commercial television in Israel.
Committee chair Avraham Poraz gleefully announced that his position is that the commercial television sector should be transferred from a franchise system to a license system.
Sound good? Why, yes. There is just one small matter: today there are three companies with franchises for commercial television ¿ Reshet, Keshet, and Tel-Ad ¿ and they belong to the publishers of three of Israel¿s four most influential newspapers.
According to the terms of the franchises those companies received, they were to broadcast until the end of 2003, when they were to return the franchises to the state, count their profits, and go home, or at least make competitive bids for the next franchise period.
But those three companies have the richest, most powerful shareholders in the country, who have scores of lobbyists and an arsenal of lawyers, but most importantly, they have lots of friends on various Knesset committees.