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Poraz examines Israel 10, Channel 2 franchisee Keshet merger

Knesset communications committee hopes to settle television franchise issues within to weeks

MK Avraham Poraz, chairman of the special committee for amending the Communications Law, has in recent days began studying the request made by Israel 10 for its merger with Channel 2 franchisee Keshet, TheMarker has learned. A senior Keshet source confirmed that Keshet is aware of this request. The source said that Keshet hasn't taken any real steps to examine the request.

Poraz on Monday decided to change the committee's legislative priorities, and give a priority to saving Channel 10 through one of three options: an expedited merger of Israel 10 and the other Channel 10 franchisee Eden, should Eden join the broadcasts in June, as has been agreed, and not change its position. Another option involves Israel 10 merging with a Channel 2 franchisee. The third option involves amending the Second Television and Radio Authority Law, which will enable broadcasts in Channel 10 through just one franchisee, Israel 10. Should one of these amendments be effected, the Channel 2 franchises will be extended by one year, till November 2004, without a tender.

The proposal to merge a Channel 2 franchisee with the Channel 10 franchisee was raised last week by Channel 10 CEO Johanna Prenner at a meeting with MK Avraham Poraz. Prenner previously held a senior position at Keshet.

The idea had been proposed by Channel 10 investors in an effort to stem the heavy losses of up to $10 million per month that Channel 10 has been suffering since going on the air.

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Poraz said that the merger is logical and will be examined in depth in the framework of merging the franchisees of the two commercial channels.

The legislation relating to licenses and franchises in the commercial channels was to be put off until the beginning of May, when the Knesset returns from the Pesach recess. Poraz said he now hopes to settle the issues relating to Channel 10 before the Knesset recess in two weeks.