Broadcasting in Israel is in chaos as plug is pulled on the IBA

I like to stay informed about broadcasting news going on in the world (probably a holdover from my many years listening to shortwave radio). I was quite surprised to learn that Israel’s Knesset had decided to shut down its public broadcaster IBA and replace it with a new, leaner organization called KAN. The shutdown happened rather suddenly this week with the national newscast being yanked off the air, with one news anchor finding out about the closure while she was still on the air (above). 

My understanding is that the reason IBA is being closed down is because it has become a big bureaucracy, and Israelis were fed up having to pay massive license fees for broadcasts they don’t tune in to. Also, there are stories the Netanyahu government had it in for IBA over their lousy news coverage. Still, this is a big shock to viewers and listeners there.

The biggest controversy to come from this, I guess, surrounds the impact of this decision on Israel’s annual participation in the Eurovision Song Contest, which actually turned out to be the final show on Channel 1 last night before it left the air. This is a big deal for people in Israel, because they’ve entered and won that contest three times. Anyway, it looks like Israel might not be competing anymore, due to the IBA closure. 

This, folks, is bizarre, because you would think this new broadcasting organization would want to be able to air the show and send an entry to compete. The bottom line is there is a lot of confusion today about what is happening, but then again, there is a lot about this story that makes no sense.