In reversal, Channel 10 wins rights to broadcast Knesset TV

State regulator awards parliamentary channel to RGE Group production company, following court order blocking right-wing competitor from bid due to irregularities in tender

Raoul Wootliff is a former Times of Israel political correspondent and Daily Briefing podcast producer.

A view of the television studios of the Knesset Channel, at the Knesset, Jan 19, 2011. (Isaac Harari/FLASH90)
A view of the television studios of the Knesset Channel, at the Knesset, Jan 19, 2011. (Isaac Harari/FLASH90)

The commercial television broadcaster Channel 10 won the rights Thursday to produce, manage and broadcast the Knesset Channel for the next 10 years following a court decision to block a key competitor from receiving the contract due to irregularities in the tender.

Much like the satellite television network C-SPAN in the US, the Knesset Channel broadcasts all sessions of Israel’s parliament and key committee debates, as well as political current affairs programming. Since its founding in 2006, the channel has been run by Hadashot (formerly Channel 2 News).

Last May, the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting awarded Channel 20 the license to manage the channel, but it lost the contract in December following an appeal by losing competitors Hadashot and Channel 10.

The High Court found that there were irregularities in the tender process and suspended the agreement until it could be properly investigated.

In the first tender, which scored each prospective broadcaster based on criteria set by the council, Channel 20 came in first place, with Channel 10 second and Hadashot last.

Reexamining the bid, the council has now awarded the rights to the RGE Group, the owner of Channel 10.

Channel 20 had been due to begin running the Knesset Channel in July last year, but following the court’s ruling the current broadcaster, Hadashot, was allowed to continue until a final decision on the tender was made.

Channel 10 is now set to take over within three months.

Channel 20 began broadcasting in August 2014 as a station focusing on Jewish tradition with a conservative bent. Sometimes referred to as Israel’s Fox News for its right-of-center programming and public claim to offer a countering view to the “mainstream media,” the channel only received permission to broadcast its own news programs in December 2016.

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