Opposition lawmakers push to save Educational TV
Zionist Union MKs Merav Michaeli and Yossi Yonah have called an urgent meeting at the Knesset for next Wednesday, in what amounts to a last-resort effort to save Israeli Educational Television from closure.
IETV was the first television service to be established in Israel, dating back to 1965.
Like so many other state-owned institutions, it owes its genesis to the Rothschild Foundation, which partnered with the Education Ministry to make it a reality.
Its initial broadcast in March 1966 was the first television transmission in Israel.
Prime minister David Ben-Gurion was opposed to having any television in Israel, and it was not until then during the administration of Levi Eshkol (1963-1969) that television was introduced.
Israel Television, later known as Channel 1 and currently known as KAN 11 (“11 is here”), did not begin transmitting until May 1968.
Educational Television – originally called Instructional Television – was intended as a means of helping school children with their studies in English, math and biology.
In the beginning, 60 television sets were given to 32 schools. It took a year before the broadcasts went nationwide; they were expanded to include entertainment for children, but the programs always contained some kind of educational content.
In the immediate aftermath of the establishment of Instructional Television, the broadcasting channel was shared with ETV.
During the First Lebanon War (1982-1985), ETV began to change its format with messages from and for soldiers on the front; gradually current affairs and other adult programs were introduced.
Since then it has also broadcast on Channels 2 and 23. Some of its programs can also be seen on YouTube.
As the result of a Knesset decision within the framework of television reforms that began in 2013-14 when Gilad Erdan was communications minister, ETV will be deprived of its autonomy as of August 2018 when it is due to merge with KAN. Unless the decision is reversed, this move will also result in a relatively large number of dismissals and possibly a major change in content.
Both Michaeli and Yonah are concerned that once ETV (now IETV) will be absorbed into KAN, it will mean the end of quality television in Israel – as has already been indicated in the current competitive environment where reality shows are becoming the most common features in television lineups.
This concern is contained in the invitation the two MKs have sent out to fellow MKs and to IETV employees.
Before Michaeli become an MK in November 2013, she was a radio and television broadcaster focusing on documentaries and current affairs. She also taught university classes in media and communications.