Tel Aviv-based international television network i24 News said it started transmitting inside Israel itself on Wednesday after finally winning a local broadcast licence, five years after its launch.
The broadcasts were started in English and French, while Arabic-language programming will be delayed for a number of days due to “technical reasons,” Swiss-Israeli CEO Frank Melloul told a press conference at the station’s waterfront headquarters.
All three language services will be carried by Israeli cable network HOT, he said, with plans to add Hebrew in the future.
“Until now we were all over the world except in Israel,” he said in English.
Launched back in 2013, i24 News is part of French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi’s media and telecom group Altice.
The Israeli operation shows the Jewish state and the broader region in an “unbiased” way, Melloul said.
“We are a global news network, we are here to connect the world to the reality of the Middle East and to connect the reality of the Middle East to the world.”
Until now it could only be viewed in Israel online due to competition issues raised by Drahi’s ownership of Hot, Israel’s top pay TV operator.
Melloul said he would work with Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara to try to add Hebrew to i24’s existing three broadcast languages.
Current legislation prevents i24’s new licence from including Hebrew.
“I think it is about time to think about a fourth channel for i24 News and to allow i24 News to broadcast in a new language, in Hebrew,” Melloul said, sitting next to Kara.
“I know your determination to open the market; to change laws,” he added.
The station broadcasts from studios in Jaffa, Paris, Los Angeles, Washington and New York. It has 400 employees around the world, 200 of them journalists.
Melloul said Israeli viewers would see the same content as that shown elsewhere.