Plans to scrap Israel’s BBC could see it axed from Eurovision

Israel's new coalition plans to scrap Kan's role as a public broadcaster due to its alleged 'left-wing bias'


Israeli singer Noa Kirel holds press conference in Tel Aviv on August 10, 2022. Krill will represent Israel in the upcoming Eurovision contest. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** נוע קריל ארויזיון זמרת תרבות נועה קיריל

The new Israeli government will reportedly publish plans to scrap its public broadcaster after accusing the network of “left-wing bias”.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi reaffirmed the plans to remove Kan's status as a public broadcaster after accusing the corporation of "left-wing bias", a move which could have knock-on effec, including seeing Israel kicked out Eurovision.

“The public shouldn't fund one particular channel, there should not be public broadcasting," the minister told a Reichmann University conference on Monday.

However speaking to liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz he stressed that there were no plans to abolish the corporation entirely, stating: “We don’t intend to close Kan, but the public shouldn’t have to finance public broadcasting in a country that believes in the free market and competition. You have respectable panels and good programs – compete in a free market.”

He also noted ambitions to privatise the Israeli Defense Forces’ Army Radio and shake-up the Cable and Satellite Council and the Second Authority, the agencies who regulate Israeli broadcasting.

The Likud MK said he would outline details on the matter within the fortnight.

European Broadcasting Union Director General Noel Curran warned in an official statement of concern earlier this month that scrapping KAN's news channel could render Israel ineligible for EBU membership, meaning it would be barred from high-profile events including the Eurovision Song Contest.

EBU members are required to meet the organisation’s “commitment to a full range of programming as public service media”.

“The EBU's responsibility is to ensure that it supports all our Members in their mission to serve the interests of the general public in the best possible manner,” Mr Curran complained.

“These developments risk undermining KAN’s capability to meet its commitments as a member of our international alliance of public service media organisations,” he continued in light of Mr Kahri’s plans.

In 2017 a previous Israeli administration headed up by six-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also threatened to dismantle KAN’s news operation. However, the plans were scrapped after the EBU insisted on the continuation of Kan as a requirement for Israel’s entry in the 2019 Song Contest.

Last July Israel confirmed pop singer Noa Kirel would compete on its behalf in 2023’s Eurovision competition set to take place in Liverpool.

“As far as I remember, we declared our independence as a Jewish and democratic state some 75 years ago. The citizens of Israel elected a right-wing government to implement a liberal economic agenda, including in the media market,” Mr Kahri explained in response to the EBU’s public letter. 

“I am committed to the Israeli public and not to a foreign body. We will find the solution that will balance the cultural expression of Israel that we want to bring to the media market,” he went on.

Kan News is currently the third largest news broadcaster in Israel, behind channels 12 and 13.

Kan has operated since 2015 when it was launched as a replacement for the defunct public-service broadcaster, Israel Broadcasting Agency. It runs 8 radio stations and three television channels, along side online content.

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