Netanyahu backer Ron Lauder solidifies control of Channel 10 (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Emilie Grunzweig 06/03/12)
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American billionaire and President of the World Jewish Congress Ron
Lauder is increasing his managerial hold on Channel 10, in what
officials in the organization say will lead to relief in the tension
between the media outlet and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, of
which Lauder is a major supporter.
Last week, Channel 10 head Yossi Warshavsky resigned after four years
in office, saying he no longer had the strength to fight for the
deficit-stricken channel´s survival. Warshavsky will be replaced by
Channel 10 CFO Yoav Heldman.
On Thursday, the channel´s board of directors announced the
nomination of several officials considered to be Lauder´s emissaries
to the organization, in a move which effectively increases his
influence on the channel´s day-to-day operation.
In the session, the board named Lauder aide Avi Balashnikov as deputy
directorate chairman, a position which until now did not exist, as
well as appointing Michal Greiski as head of the finance committee,
which is made up of officials linked to Lauder as well as those
linked to head of the directorate Yossi Meiman.
In its current makeup, despite the fact Meiman retains his role as
chairman, Channel 10´s board shows a strengthening of Lauder´s power,
with market officials estimating that the new appointments make the
U.S. billionaire the organization´s de-facto manager.
It must be noted that it has been a while since any of the channel´s
stockholders have transferred funds to the crippled organization,
with the exception of Lauder, who gave Channel 10 eight million NIS a
few months ago, mainly to allow to pay suppliers.
Channel 10 has been in the throes of a severe financial crisis in the
last year, making its near future uncertain, following the
stockholders withholding of further funds and the channels NIS 45
million licensing and royalties debt, which prevent the outlet from
receiving its permit.
Channel officials have repeatedly asked its debt be divided into
installments, adding otherwise the organization could shut down.
However, until now the Knesset´s Finance Committee has rejected this
officer, with Channel 10 officials claiming that the Prime Minister´s
Office was working to shut it down.
Recent months have apparently brought a reported disconnect between
Netanyahu and Launder, once a staunch supporter of the premier,
leading one channel official to estimate that the media outlet will
affect a more positive attitude toward the PM.
Last year, several senior members of Channel 10´s news division
resigned in protest over the apology the station broadcast to
American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Israeli daily
Israel Hayom and is considered close to Netanyahu.
The apology, which was said to have been demanded by one of the
station´s owners, followed a 20-minute profile of Adelson broadcast
by the station in January which Adelson contended was inaccurate. The
resignations are expected to be followed today by the departure
of "Hashavua" reporters Avner Hofstein, Paz Schwartz and David Deri.
(© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 06/03/12)
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