|Official Country Name:||State of Israel|
|Region (Map name):||Middle East|
|Language(s):||Hebrew, Arabic, English|
|Area:||20,770 sq km|
|GDP:||110,386 (US$ millions)|
|Number of Television Stations:||17|
|Number of Television Sets:||1,690,000|
|Television Sets per 1,000:||284.6|
|Number of Cable Subscribers:||1,147,000|
|Cable Subscribers per 1,000:||185.0|
|Number of Satellite Subscribers:||1,160,000|
|Satellite Subscribers per 1,000:||195.3|
|Number of Radio Stations:||40|
|Number of Radio Receivers:||3,070,000|
|Radio Receivers per 1,000:||517.0|
|Number of Individuals with Computers:||1,590,000|
|Computers per 1,000:||267.8|
|Number of Individuals with Internet Access:||1,270,000|
|Internet Access per 1,000:||213.9|
Background & General Characteristics
Since the very inception of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, as the culmination of the Zionist movement, there has been virtually no respite from one kind of violence or another between Israelis and neighboring Arab states. Though the state of Israel's creation was mandated by the United Nations, Arab states rejected the arrangement. Wars in 1948, 1967, and 1973 ensued between the newly founded state and its neighbors with Israel winning each time. While Egypt has signed a peace treaty with Israel and other Arab states have recognized its existence as a state, there continues to be no overall peaceful resolution to the differing perspectives. Israel has been embroiled in dispute over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with the former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—now known as the Palestine Authority (PA)—as they have been given semi-autonomous governance in those areas. Within this milieu, access to information and use of technology plays a vital role in the ongoing maintenance of the state.
Israel is located on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan directly east and southeast, Egypt to the southwest, and the Red Sea directly south. Its geographical location has placed it in an area where it could not help but make news and it has been performing to capacity ever since opening day in 1948. In fact, as noted by Rami Tal, relative to its size as a nation-state Israel is the largest source of news in the world.
State of the Press
The history of the press begins all the way back in 1863 during the period of the Ottoman Empire, almost a century before the state of Israel existed. Ha-Levanon (founded by Yoel Moshe Salomon, later a founder of the town of Petah Tikva, and Michael Cohen) and Havazzelet (started six months after Ha-Levanon and founded by Rabbi Israel Bak as a voice for the Hassidic movement) were the first Hebrew newspapers—weeklies—established in Israel. Unfortunately, each weekly had a habit of informing the authorities about alleged illegal activities by the other and so the Ottomans shut down both of the papers within a year. Havazzelet , however, reopened in 1870 edited by Bak's son-in-law, Israel-Dov Frumkin, and ran for forty more years through 1911; outlasting many other weeklies attempting to start up and subsequently failing. Havazzelet was an extremely important early activist paper calling for numerous reforms and actions on behalf of the Jews residing in Palestine during that era. For his activism, Frumkin was issued a herem—excommuniction from the orthodox community—but he continued in his cause. Among his admonitions in Havazzelet were calls for assistance to Russian immigrants fleeing the pogroms of the 1880s, for an ending of the Old Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine) dependence on philanthropic donations from abroad, and for aid for the Yemenite immigrants who were being exploited by Jewish farmers in the region.
Havazzelet offered one other important contribution to the Jewish people in Palestine. In 1882, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda joined the staff of the paper to which he had contributed to as a student in Paris. Ben-Yehuda eventually took over a weekly in 1885, called Hatzvi (Deer), which became Hashkafa (Outlook) in 1901 when the Ottomans gave him a license to publish his own paper, through which he greatly aided the new yishuv and the Zionist cause. However, his most important contribution through Hatzvi was aiding the revival of spoken Hebrew by disseminating new vocabulary through print. His work became so important to the reemergence of spoken Hebrew that he has been labeled the "reviver of the Hebrew language."
The ending of World War I saw considerable change in the press in Palestine. Dailies began to make their appearance, but were sporadic for quite some time. In 1910, Ben-Yehuda founded the first daily paper in Palestine, Ha'or (The Light), edited by his son, Itamar Ben Avi, who returned from working as a journalist in France in order to take up the post. However, only Herut (Freedom), which was initially published as a weekly in 1909 and had become a daily in 1912, continued to appear regularly. However, by 1917, during the administration of Palestine by the British as a League of Nations mandate, people who had been exiled by the Turks returned and the situation for the press began to improve. Dailies and weeklies began to take on more of their modern differentiations. Afternoon dailies began to appear alongside the morning dailies. And already during this period the publishing exodus from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv was beginning.
By 1925, the political press ran by particular parties, was seeing its beginning with the publication of Davar (Event or Word). The General Federation of Labor (Histadrut) founded Davar and appointed one of its leaders, Berl Katznelson, editor. Due to the work of Katznelson the paper was a large success—its Friday literary supplement attracting some of the preeminent poets and writers of the time. Almost all of the papers of the time adhered to the "mouthpiece of a political party" model. Only Hadashot Ha'aretz (News of the Land), subsequently shortened to Ha'aretz (The Land), which was founded in 1919 in Jerusalem and moved to Tel Aviv in 1923, followed a different path (and later also Yediot Aharonot , but it was not founded until 1939). Ha'aretz attempted to be a serious publication advocating a liberal-democratic perspective. Dr. Moshe Glickson was the editor-in-chief during this period until 1937. In 1937, a German-Jewish multimillionaire, Shlomo-Zalman Schocken, a zealous patron of high culture, purchased Ha'aretz . Schocken appointed his son, Gershom (Gustav), editor and this remained the case for the following decades. Ha'aretz is still being published as one of the most respected and influential dailies in Israel and may be accessed on the Internet.
A final historical reflection concerns the inauguration of the rivalry between Yediot Aharonot (The Latest News) and Ma'ariv (Evening Paper) which remains one of the main rivalries of Israeli press in our day. Yediot Aharonot produced the most popular editor and journalist of the time, Azriel Carlebach. In early 1948, about three months before Israel was established as a nation-state, Carlebach staged a "putsch." He left Yediot Aharonot with dozens of reporters, editors, administrative personnel and staff of the printing press to begin Ma'ariv . Ma'ariv was being funded by Oved Ben-Ami (a banker and investor from Netanya). Carlebach thought that Yediot Aharonot would collapse, eliminating competition, but he miscalculated. The owner (Yehuda Mozes) of Yediot Aharonot and his son (Noah Mozes) managed to keep the daily afloat. Thus, with both dailies continuing to operate, there remains huge animosity between them. Somewhat justifiably, Yediot Aharonot seems to be winning the rivalry with weekday circulations at 300,000 compared to weekday circulations of 160,000 for Ma'ariv . Yediot Aharonot became the clear forerunner by circulation in the 1970s, not only above Ma'ariv but also any other daily in the country. It remains undisputedly in the lead as concerns circulation. However, the unexpected death of Yehuda Mozes in a car accident in 1986 has caused internal instability in the paper due to contentions for control among family shareholders. Yet, Aharon Mozes, grandson of the founder and son of Noah Mozes retained control in 2002. Yediot Aharonot maintains a strong editorship tradition by maintaining Moshe Vardi, who studied international relations in London. He is the son of the late Herzl Rosenbloom who was the paper's editor from 1948 to 1986.
Israel far outshines other countries by the manner in which each and every event is reported, analyzed, and reanalyzed. Thus, with Israelis' constant concern to stay in the know for the sake of safety, some of the most intensive event coverage in the world, and a population ranking a 95 percent average literacy rate, there are many of people ready to read, listen, and watch. Israel, despite recent and ongoing increases in radio and television allegiance, still maintains one of the world's highest newspaper readership rates among adult populations.
All newspapers in Israel are privately owned and managed with Tel Aviv being the main publishing nexus. This makes sense when one considers that for all practical purposes it is also the functioning capital. Jerusalem is the actual capital, but most of the embassies are located in the port city of Tel Aviv. Not only is Tel Aviv the main publication center, but all papers are produced in the larger cities. This phenomena has arisen largely owing to various economic reasons including urbanization, employer and employee living concerns, reader base per capita, and relative ease of delivery due to the small size of Israel. Actually, the population is heavily concentrated along the coastal region, with roughly two-thirds inhabiting the area between Nahariyya in the north and Ashqelon in the south. The largest circulation newspapers can drop-ship their newsprint by air to Haifa from Tel-Aviv within one hour of press time. This potential for fast and thorough circulation of papers has led to all newspapers considering themselves national rather than local papers. Week-day circulation figures of many papers receive a considerable boost on the weekends. Friday editions are typically twice the size of the weekday editions due to added supplements and prove to be popular fare as they are issued on Sabbath eve; no papers are issued on Saturday.
Newspapers, especially the morning dailies, have strong religious and/or political ties. Despite high circulation figures and advertising revenue, as in the past, most papers still end up depending on political parties, religious organizations, and/or public monies to fund their business. This has a deleterious effect on freedom of the press as there are often expectations tied with the transferring of funds. Such limitations on the press have been soundly criticized time and again, but unfortunately the papers have a fine line to walk between losing necessary operating funding and being willing to acquiesce in certain areas.
Besides the dailies, there are approximately 400 other newspapers and magazines being published. Of the four hundred, about fifty are weekly and about one hundred and fifty are fortnightly publications. Eleven languages are utilized in the publishing of these materials; two hundred and fifty of them are published in Hebrew.
Israel has around twenty-two privately owned dailies. The most influential and respected daily is Ha'aretz (The Land) for both its news coverage and its commentary. It attempts to maintain a non-sensational approach and Israeli decision-makers keenly scrutinize the op-ed page. Due to the way it presents its material it is able to fit twice the amount of material on each page compared to Yediot Aharonot and Ma'ariv and is the most widely read morning paper with a typical circulation of 65,000 on weekdays and 75,000 on weekends. However, its readership is dwarfed by the popular afternoon press of Ma'ariv (Evening Prayer)—which produces a circulation of 160,000 on weekdays and 270,000 on weekends—and Yedioth Aharonoth (The Latest News)—with a weekday circulation of 300,000 and a weekend circulation of 600,000. The weekend circulation figures of dailies are especially staggering considering that no newspapers appear on Saturday.
The most influential English language daily newspaper is The Jerusalem Post . It provides detailed and reliable news coverage. It publishes nationally with weekday circulation figures at 30,000 and weekend numbers at 50,000. It also publishes a weekly English international edition with circulation numbers at 70,000 and a French international edition with circulation figures at 7,500. Though its circulation numbers are low, it is disproportionately influential due the fact that it is read by the diplomatic community and all the foreign journalists in Israel.
The overall weekday daily newspaper circulation figures lie in the range of 500,000-600,000. This averages out to around 21 papers per one hundred people, but most Israeli citizens end up reading more than one daily. Newspapers are produced in a variety of languages with the majority of dailies being in Hebrew. Other languages include: Arabic, English, French, Polish, Yiddish, Amharic, Farsi, Ladino, Romanian, Hungarian, Russian, and German.
The dailies include: Al Anba (The News; circ. 10,000; founded 1968), Globes (circ. 40,000; founded 1983), Ha'aretz (The Land; circ. 65,000-75,000; founded 1918), Hadashot (The News), Al Hamishmar (The Guardian; founded 1943), Hamodia (The Informer; circ. 25,000), Hatzofeh (The Watchman; circ. 60,000; founded 1938), Israel Nachrichten (News of Israel; circ. 20,000; founded 1974), Al-Itihad (Unity; circ. 60,000; founded 1944), The Jerusalem Post (circ. 30,000-50,000; founded 1932), Le Journal d'Israël (circ. 10,000; founded 1971), Letzte Nyess (Late News; circ. 23,000; founded 1949), Ma'ariv (Evening Prayer; circ. 160,000-270,000; founded 1948), Mabat (circ. 7,000; founded 1971), Nasha Strana (Our Country; circ. 35,000; founded 1970), Al-Quds (Jerusalem; circ. 55,000; founded 1968), Ash Shaab (The People), Shearim (The Gates), Uj Kelet (circ. 20,000; founded 1918), Viata Noastra (circ. 30,000; founded 1950), Yated Ne'eman (circ. 25,000; founded 1986), and Yedioth Aharonoth (The Latest News; circ. 300,000-600,000; founded 1939).
Weeklies and other Periodicals
Israel has a large number of weeklies, fortnightlies, and other periodicals being produced at varying increments of time. These publications are largely niche marketed to a broad variety of special interests. The circulation numbers of these volumes ranges from the hundreds of thousands to just over one thousand.
Some examples of the publications, listed with brief amounts of background information and chosen to offer a sense of the diversity available, include: Aurora (circ. 20,000; founded 1963; weekly; for expatriates), Bama'alah (journal of the young Histadrut Movement), Bamahane (In the Camp; circ. 70,000; founded 1948; military, illustrated publication of the Israel Armed Forces), Glasul Populurui (weekly of the Communist Party of Israel), Al-Hurriya (Freedom; weekly of the Herut Party), Jerusalem Report (circ. 65,000 worldwide; founded 1959), MB (Mitteilungsblatt; founded 1932; German journal of the Irgun Olei Merkus Europa [The Association of Immigrants from Central Europe]), Laisha (circ. 150,000; founded 1946; women's magazine), Al Mirsad (The Telescope; news and current affairs), Otiot (founded 1987; for children), As-Sinnarah (for Christian and Muslim Arabs in the region), Ariel (circ. 30,000; founded 1962; review of all aspects cultural in Israel by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Israel Law Review (founded 1965), Lilac (founded 2000; Israel's first magazine for Arabic women), Nekuda (voice of the Jewish settlers of the West Bank and Gaza Strip), Israel Journal of the Medical Sciences (founded 1965), and Sinai (founded 1937; Torah science and literature).
With the average annual income being US$18,900, Israel is in a good position compared with its neighbors. Israel's economy is based on exporting computer software, military equipment, chemicals, and agricultural products. The economy has significantly improved during the 1980s and 1990s as Israel has been able to allocate less to defense and more into the civilian sector. In 1973 over forty percent of state funds were being funneled to defense expenditures, whereas today it stands at around 12 percent. Though the economy hit a period of recession in the late 1990s recovery began in 2000 under the Barak Government and was aided by the surge in the peace process during that time.
Also relevant to the economy, Israel continues to receive substantial funding from the United States and various Jewish communities around the world. However, while all of the assistance is extremely beneficial and indeed necessary in helping Israel's economy remain strong, the on-the-ground situation of continuing and often escalating violence, security problems, and a general stalling of the peace process has led to less promising short-term economic returns for the near future.
The Daily Newspaper Publishers' Association of Israel represents publishers in negotiations with official and public agencies. It also negotiates contracts with employees and distributes newsprint. It has members from all daily papers and is affiliated with the International Federation of Newspaper Publishers.
The Israeli Press Council (Chair Itzhak Zamir; founded 1963) deals with drafting codes of professional ethics that are legally applicable to all journalists and other issues of common interest to all the press.
Also concerned with the enactment of legal codes and protection of the press in Israel are the Foreign Press Association, the Israel Association of the Periodical Press, and the Israel Press Association.
In 1986 the government approved the establishment of private radio and television stations to be run in competition with state systems.
Censorship & State-Press Relations
Censorship was extremely tight in the beginning years of the state through the early 1970s and the Yom Kippur War.
A huge scandal in the 1980s involved the closing of Hadashot for four days by military censors after the paper ran a photograph displaying two Arab terrorists being led away for interrogation by agents of the General Security Service. The scandalous aspect was that the terrorists had already been reported to have "died of their wounds" according to an official communiqué.
The major issue with censorship in Israel boils down to this: Anything related to national security or military operations are off-limits to journalists. Of course, most of the news attempting to be reported from Israel deals with issues easily construed as related to national security and/or military operations. Thus, there can be understood to be significant curtailment of freedom of the press in Israel. Material produced by foreign journalists is routinely supposed to be passed by censors before it is broadcast. As well, besides the official channels of censorship, it is commonly recognized that bribery, intimidation, and violence on the part of the government/military plays into the equation of what gets printed/broadcast and what does not.
What must be recognized is that Israel feels that it is a nation-state constantly under siege, being probed for its weaknesses. Its civilians, as well as its military, are constantly being shot at and bombed. On the other side, Israel is holding captive thousands of Palestinians in dismal conditions, including curfews, house arrests, arbitrary detainment, and the like. This creates animosity toward them and attacks are perpetrated by the Palestinians which consequently provokes further and harsher responses by the Israelis. While it needs to be recognized this situation has created a vicious cycle of violence it must be also be recognized that it is absolutely essential that this situation not be allowed to become an excuse for violation of international standards of journalistic practice and/or of human rights by Israel (or by Palestinians). As it currently stands, Israel appears to be abusing its upper-hand of military might and has been accused by multiple human rights agencies, time and again, to be in violation of numerous standards of human rights and journalistic practice.
Considerations of some recent, more specific examples are in order. According to Reporters Without Borders, since the start of the second Intifada (uprising) on September 29, 2000, over 45 journalists have been reported injured by gunfire. The Israeli Defense Ministry in mid-December 2001 issued a statement concerning this matter only acknowledging nine of the cases and exonerating Tsahal (the Israeli military) in eight of the nine occurrences.
Then, at the end of 2001, the Israel GPO (Government Press Office) said that it would not renewing foreign press passes to Palestinian journalists. Instead, the GPO would give out Orange Assistant Cards that would only be valid in the Territories and not give immediate access to Israel because the Palestinian journalists "spread propaganda and do not meet journalistic standards for balanced coverage."
On January 28, 2001, Cameraman Ashraf Kutkut and reporters Mas'adah 'Uthman and Duha Al Shami, all working for Al Wattan TV, were attacked by Tsahal at the entrance of Ein Kenia, a village near Ramallah in the West Bank, although they all had valid press cards. Al Shami was beaten by the soldiers and the crew's equipment confiscated at the checkpoint. Eventually the crew was released, and the next day they retrieved their cameras and video cassettes after they had been searched by Israeli authorities.
On February 11, 2001, Khalid Jahshan, a Palestine Television photographer, Husam Abu-Allan, an AFP photographer and Lu'ay Abu-Haykal, a Reuters photographer, were beaten by Israeli troops in Hebron.
On February 12, 2001, the Israeli army bombed Palestinian residential areas in the West Bank. One of the buildings targeted was the Al Hayat Al Jadida newspaper, located in Ramallah. The Palestinian Al Salam Television was also shelled by Israeli forces.
According to a transcript from the International Press Institute, on April 20, Laila Odeh, Abu Dhabi TV bureau chief was shot at by Israeli troops and wounded while she and her crew were filming at the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. She was hit in the leg by live ammunition after identifying herself as a journalist to Israeli soldiers positioned nearby. By her own account, and that of others at the scene, she left the area immediately when ordered to do so by IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers, and was shot as she was fleeing. The International Press Institute further reported that after significant criticism from various press associations the government blamed the reporter with illegitimate reconstructions of the scene as a riot scene even though the Foreign Press Association in Israel advocated that Odeh was nowhere near a riot when shot.
May 13, 2001, Israeli troops shot and wounded Iman Masarweh as she was driving near East Jerusalem in a car marked "Press." Masarweh, a London-based Quds Press News Agency reporter, was hospitalized and operated on to remove the bullet. She noted that there were "no confrontations taking place when the soldiers targeted and shot her."
On May 15, 2001, it is reported that Bertrand Aguirre of French television TF1 was shot by an Israeli sniper who jumped out of a jeep, pointed an M-16 and fired. Aguirre's flak jacket saved his life, but the disturbing aspect of the situation is that this occurred while he was standing among a group of cameramen, being filmed while speaking into a microphone. An Associated Press Television News video captured the whole incident on film. As of July 2001, no statement had been offered by the Israeli government despite promises to investigate the matter.
June 28, 2002, while visiting neighbors with family, Nizar Ramadan, correspondent of the newspaper Qater , was arrested in Hebron and taken to the Ofer detention center. Also that day, Israeli soldiers seized and destroyed material in his office. On July 6, Ramadan's detention was extended 18 days without explanation. By July 30, his lawyer had still not been allowed to visit him.
As of July 30, 2002, five Palestinian journalists who have been jailed since April remain incarcerated. Two of these have been accused of aiding terrorists, but no proof has been offered. The other three still have no idea why they are being held. Reporters Without Borders continued to write the government on their behalf. Since May 29, 2002, when Israel began to occupy Palestinian cities and towns, more than 20 Palestinian journalists have been arrested, many being treated violently.
Attitude toward Foreign Media
Recognizing that significant harassment, detainment, and deaths have occurred in the past couple of years, especially since the September 29, 2000, inauguration of the new Intifada sparked by Ariel Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, still foreign can often find a more welcoming home in Israel than in many of the surrounding Arab countries as far as concerns freedom of movement, ease of transmitting copy, and general access to compatible, even superior technology. Generally, if issues of national security are avoided, Israel is a relatively safe base considering the issues often being covered. Due to the intense output of news originating from the area, even recognizing the substantive dangers, the country boasts of the largest contingents of foreign journalists hunkered in one place compared to anywhere else in the world.
Some of the foreign bureaus based in Israel include: Agence France-Presse (France) Agencia EFE (Spain), Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA; Italy), Associated Press (AP; USA), Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa; Germany), Jiji Tsushin-Sha (Japan), Kyodo News Service (Japan), Reuters (UK), United Press International (UPI; USA), and Informatsionnoye Telegrafnoye Agentstvo Rossii—Telegrafnoye Agentsvo Suverennykh Stran (ITAR-TASS; Russia).
There are three news agencies in Israel (including the Occupied Territories). The Israeli News Agency (ITIM), founded in 1950 by a group of newspapermen is controlled by a board representing the newspaper dailies of the country that hold shares in the agency. It has staff reporters covering various sections of the country that then furnish news to the newspapers and as well to radio stations.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) is the oldest and best-known agency in Israel. Internationally, it has bureaus in New York, Paris, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg and has access to other fields through stringers.
The Palestine Press Service is the only Arab news agency in the Occupied Territories.
In 1986 the Israeli government approved establishment of privatized and commercialized television and radio stations to be run in competition with the state system. However, while this is occurring, a debate, similar to that in the United States, as to how this will affect the content of programming available on these media, especially in relation to educational content. The debate was exacerbated in 1996 when the government declared that they wished to privatize all broadcasting. One of the most prominent skeptics of the current trend in Israeli television is Professor Elihu Katz who was one of the founders of Israeli television. He fears that with the considerable increase of channels television will lose its "agenda-setting" function of providing education to society and fostering civic involvement in the democratic process; in essence, he is suggesting that there will be largely no shared experience from which to foster societal dialogue. Of course, this is not the opinion of everyone, but then that is obvious by the progression of the matter.
For the moment, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), which is modeled closely akin to the BBC, maintains state-ownership and responsibility for Kol Israel (The Voice of Israel) radio and Israel Television (ITV). It derives its funding primarily by license fees on television sets, but also about twenty percent from advertising. IBA's ITV broadcasts began in 1968. It has stations in Jerusalem and additional studios in Tel-Aviv. One color network (VHF and UHF capabilities) and one satellite channel (began in the early 1990s) are run, broadcasting in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Channel One, is the main channel and provides news, original productions, films, and children's and entertainment programming. One and a half-hour of each evening's broadcasts is offered in Arabic.
IBA's radio broadcasting began in 1948 and, as of 2002, there are stations in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, and Haifa. IBA broadcasts six programs that are available both locally and internationally on medium, short-wave, and VHF/FM frequencies. Taking into account the production of all the programming, sixteen languages are utilized: Hebrew, Arabic, English, Yiddish, Ladino, Romanian, Hungarian, Moghrabi, Persian, French, Russian, Buchranian, Georgian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Amharic. Some of the channels and their offerings include: Reshet Alef (first network) broadcasting children's programs and discussions on cultural and general events; Reshet Bet (second network) providing news and discussion of current events; Reshet Gimmel (third network) playing easy listening music; Kol Haderech interspersing traffic reports with music; Reka being designated for new immigrants broadcasting mainly in Russian and Amharic; Kol Hamusica offering classical music; Kol Zion Lagola is beamed to Jewish communities abroad; and Kol Yisrael in Arabic is broadcast for Israeli Arabs and listeners in Arab countries.
Founded in 1991 and established by law in 1993, the government established the Second Channel TV and Radio Administration to supervise the running of the Second Television Channel and sixteen regional radio stations. The administration authorizes and supervises three licensees who are given a four to six-year period to broadcast programming. Each licensee broadcasts two days a week and Saturdays are rotated. General entertainment offerings and films make up the bulk of the programming. The stations on Second Channel receive all of their funding from advertising and though supervised by a government authority Second Channel is a commercial operation that sees itself in competition with the state channel.
Since the late 1980s, cable TV has had a monumental impact on Israeli culture. Today it reaches over 65 percent of all households. By law the government issues one license per designated area with funding to the licensee provided by user fees. Typically, thirty to forty channels are offered with a significant amount of foreign programming picked up by satellite. Channels include: MTV, SKY NEWS, CNN, BBC, and also channels from Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Spain, Russia and Turkey. Of course, in heavy, and rather unregulated, competition with cable television is the satellite television market.
In 1965, Israel became the first country in the world to sanction educational television (known as Israel Educational Television [ETV]) before general-purpose television. The government realized television's importance for educating society (and of course for disseminating their perspectives). Funding for the project was secured from the Rothschild Foundation and they also managed supervisory responsibilities. Later, the Ministry of Education and Culture took over responsibilities for funding and supervision of ETV. Programming largely consists of school programs on a variety of subjects and adult education.
Of the current commercial television stations, it should be noted that the influential newspapers Yediot Aharonot and Ma'ariv are senior partners in two of the companies. This suggests that the papers are well aware that there will be cuts in advertising revenues for the newspaper industry due to the popularity of television as a medium and so are making sure to grab a stake in the next lucrative market burgeoning in Israel.
In the early 2000s there were seventeen broadcast stations in the country with thirty-six additional low-power repeaters, broadcasting to 1.69 million televisions and according to a finding by IBA, eighty-seven percent of Israelis on a daily weekday basis. As well, May 18, 1996 Israel's Amos 1 satellite was launched and began transmitting local television and radio programming.
The first radio station in the Palestine area came on air March, 30, 1936, as The Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS) with its Hebrew name being agreed upon as Kol Yerushalyim (The Voice of Jerusalem). It was an organ of the British administration, but did provide news bulletins to the Jewish and Muslim populations however skewed the perspective may have been to these populations. In 1940, the Haganah (Jewish Underground) opened a pirate radio station called Kol Israel (Voice of Israel) on 42 meters (about 7000 kHz). In June of the same year it is ends broadcasting due to potential invasion by Axis powers. Then, with the establishment of Israel as a state in 1948, the radio station Kol Yerushalyim is turned over to the Israelis and they rename it Kol Israel. Two years later, in 1950, the military station Galei Tzahal was added to the foray. Both stations still operate.
Currently, there are roughly 23 AM, 15 FM, and 2 short-wave licensed stations operating in Israel. They broadcast to 3.07 million radios. Radio is utilized as a good medium to disseminate information since it is noted as being able to reach over ninety percent of the population.
As well as the licensed stations, unlicensed stations are also ubiquitous. The government tends to be lenient on these stations even though they are illegal (one can speculate it gives a feeling of leniency to the government that tends come across harshly in its censorship of other aspects of the press). Some of the "pirate" stations are even commercial, being funded by advertising. The first unlicensed station was the Voice of Peace started in 1973 and took its cues from similar pirate stations in Europe. It ceased operation October 1, 1993, saying that "the goal has been achieved."
Two examples of specific stations are Galei Tzahal and Arutz 7 (Channel 7). Galei Tzahal is Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Radio set up by the military in 1950. It broadcasts twenty-four hours a day with news, music, and talk shows on two channels. News and talk programming comprise the first channel and music and traffic reports make up the second. Though it is still funded by the army, the stations main listeners are now civilians. It remains a popular Israeli channel. Arutz 7, formerly designated Voice of the Gazelle, is a station that promotes the perspectives of ultra-orthodox groups and of Israeli settlers in the occupied territories.
Electronic News Media
Israel actively utilizes the Internet for government, military, public, and private purposes. The country is
Being one of the younger states in the world, Israel has made a dramatic splash on the world stage. Often, despite significant and numerous lapses, it seems that the country is headed in an appropriate direction concerning press freedoms and use of technology. However, the negative treatment of the press concerning violence and censorship is a glaring mark against the state. Since its birth, it is obvious the state has remained continually encumbered and beset by various factors, but this cannot be allowed to be an excuse for extreme limitations being placed upon journalists and speech in a country that boasts itself a democracy. The press in Israel compared with many of its surrounding Middle Eastern neighbors enjoys comparatively bountiful freedoms.
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Clint B. Thomas Baldwin