Channel 2 announced Tuesday that its nightly 8 p.m. news broadcast would be shortened from its hour-long format and end at 8:45 pm, as the station grapples with budget cuts. The channel also announced the immediate cancellation of two news programs, “Six with Oded Ben Ami” and “Meet the Press.”
The moves were made due to extreme financial difficulties facing the station. The website News 1 reported Tuesday that Channel 2’s directorate demanded NIS 20 million in budget cuts. Keshet and Reshet, Channel 2’s franchisees that hold responsibility for transferring funds to the channel, did not make a December operation funds payment as requested by the channel.
News 1 also reported Tuesday that the channel is preparing for dozens of layoffs.
Keshet is freezing production of six television shows, including the popular “Polishuk” political comedy and three new dramas, Mako reported Tuesday. The reality program “Big Brother: VIP” was canceled a few weeks ago.
The news comes as Israel’s other news network, Channel 10, is also dealing with serious budget shortfalls and cutting staff and production.
Late Monday, Channel 10’s board of directors decided to issue letters announcing the firing of its roughly 500 employees on Tuesday.
That move comes despite overtures from the Prime Minister’s Office to Channel 10 to hold off on firing employees while the Knesset discusses possible avenues to allow the country’s second private television station to continue to broadcast.
The station has accumulated massive debts and cannot maintain its broadcasting license without paying them. Channel 10 officials and left-wing politicians accuse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration of preventing government-backed debt relief out of political and personal motives.
A bailout deal negotiated between the station and Netanyahu’s office is expected to go in front of the cabinet for approval in the near future.