447Israeli Cable TV Companies Drop BBC
- Apr 3, 2003Israeli Cable TV Companies Drop BBC
Source: Dar Al-Hayat 2003/04/01
Israeli cable television operators abruptly dropped the British
Broadcasting Corporation's BBC World news channel from their roster
of stations on Tuesday after the two sides failed to reach a
financial agreement on continued service.
Viewers awoke to find a written on-screen announcement where the BBC
had been until midnight Monday, saying that beginning April 1, BBC
World would no longer be broadcast.
Cable company spokeswoman Aliza Khoury said the decision had been
reached after negotiations between both sides, and was based on the
British station's low viewer ratings and not on the BBC's reporting
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been widely criticized
in Israel as biased toward the Palestinians.
She said Israeli cable viewers still had a choice of three
international news broadcasters; CNN, Sky News and Fox News.
BBC News will continue to be relayed by the Israeli satellite
broadcaster "Yes" and the cable companies are retaining BBC Prime,
the British company's entertainment and general interest channel.
About 1.1 million Israelis have cable TV, while the satellite company
has about 310,000 subscribers
A BBC statement said the Israeli operators wanted a lower price for
the BBC news service.
"As a commercially funded channel we were unable to accept the cable
operators' proposal, which wasn't commercially viable," the statement
Neither the BBC nor the Israeli cable operators revealed the amount
of money involved.
Israeli member of parliament Yitzhak Hertzog sent a letter to Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon - who is also acting communications minister -
asking him to intervene to get BBC World restored and adding that the
present fighting in Iraq made global news coverage more important
"I wrote of the importance of this international news channel, which
is seen in a million Israeli households, especially at this critical
time," Hertzog said, adding that he asked if the communications
ministry would make an effort equal to that it made when CNN was in a
similar situation last year.
Then, cable operators announced they were dropping the U.S. news
channel, for financial reasons they said. That decision followed
strident Israeli criticism of CNN for giving more airtime to the
family of a Palestinian suicide bomber than to relatives of his
victims, an Israeli woman and her 1-year-old granddaughter.
CNN acknowledged it had erred and broadcast a series of heavily
promoted half-hour specials on Israeli victims of Palestinian terror
Under government pressure, CNN and the cable operators reopened
negotiations and in October reached a compromise, details of which
were not disclosed.
An Israeli parliamentarian, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
the BBC case was not directly political but was affected by political
factors, among which were the absence of a full-time communications
minister and Sharon's preoccupation with other matters.
Hertzog appealed to all parties involved in the latest dispute to show
flexibility and seek to resolve the issue.
"I hope they can solve their differences," he said.
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