Israel’s Channel 10 avoids closure with six-month license extension

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Channel 10, one of Israel’s two private television networks, avoided closure after Israel’s attorney general gave it a six-month extension to pay off its debts.

Channel 10 was set to shut down at midnight Thursday, when its operating license expires. The reprieve came from Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who ruled that it should continue to operate for six more months, until after national elections in March and the formation of a new government.

The station had asked for a long-term extension of its operating license from the Second Authority for Television and Radio. But the authority said the station had failed to provide an appropriate plan to show that it could remain solvent. Channel 10 can return to the Second Authority in six months with a plan for paying off its debts and remaining solvent.

The TV channel began operating in January 2002 and has faced serious financial difficulties since at least 2008.

On Sunday night, the station cut off broadcasting at 10:30 p.m., posting an announcement featuring Prime Minister Netanyahu’s photo and the statement: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who serves as communications minister, refuses to find a solution. Due to this, the workers’ union has decided to stop Channel 10’s broadcast tonight.”

Broadcasts resumed the following morning.

The station has aired news reports critical of Netanyahu and his supporters. It is owned by Israeli investor Yosef Maiman, American billionaire Ronald Lauder and Arnon Milchan, the chairman of New Regency Enterprises.