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Controversy over plan to reform Israeli public broadcasting

Minister Ofir Akunis, who is responsible for reforming public broadcasting, tells Al-Monitor that contrary to accusations by the left, his reform plan is designed to rebuild an independent entity, reflecting more "balanced" views.
An Israeli soldier from Galei Tzahal, the Israeli army radio station, speaks during a broadcast session at the station's studio in Jaffa, south of central Tel Aviv November 10, 2013. The Israeli military operates two radio stations, a news-based station that started broadcasting in 1950, and Galgalatz, a popular music station marking its 20th anniversary. The stations mostly employ soldiers who work alongside civilian presenters, including leading names in Israeli broadcasting. Picture taken November 10, 20
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“Israeli Army Radio should stand fully behind the Israeli position and back the IDF [Israel Defense Forces],” says Minister Ofir Akunis, who is in charge of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and the Second Television and Radio Authority. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept the Communications Ministry for himself in the present government, which testifies to the issue’s importance for him, he gave Akunis, a senior Likud member, the authority to deal with the hot potato called the “Reform of the Broadcasting Authority.” The Israeli Broadcasting Authority has been declared bankrupt and awaits structural reform. Akunis quickly became the target of attack by the opposition, who claim that he’s working to increase the right wing's control over public Broadcasting. 

In an interview with Al-Monitor, the minister without portfolio explains why these accusations are “an urban myth,” arguing that the media in Israel is tilted toward the left and details his vision for a balanced public broadcasting — but surprises with the statement that the army’s radio station doesn’t have to be “balanced” but should totally back the Israeli position. 

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