Israel’s TV tax to end in 2015

Communications minister starts process of shuttering public TV and radio authority, establishing substitute

Minister of Communications Gilad Erdan. (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)
Minister of Communications Gilad Erdan. (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan announced Thursday that Israel would be terminating its controversial television tax in 2015 as part of a revamping of public broadcasting.

The decision was delivered at a joint press conference with Finance Minister Yair Lapid that revealed the conclusions of the Landes Committee on public broadcasting.

“The state cannot charge money for public broadcasting when it knows full well that the money is not going towards this,” Erdan said.

“Today we will begin the process of saving public television, the Israel Broadcasting Authority will be closed and a new public broadcasting body will take its place,” the communication minister added.

The replacement body plans to create three separate television networks: one in Hebrew, one in Arabic, and a children’s network, Israel Radio reported.

Since 1965, any Israeli household with a television set — whether used for cable, satellite or strictly for watching videos — was obligated to pay an annual television tax which helped fund the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA). Today, the tax stands at NIS 345 per year ($100).

The IBA strictly enforced this rule, ignoring pleas from TV owners who did not use IBA’s services or were not connected to any television service whatsoever.

On Tuesday, the Knesset Finance Committee delivered a scathing review on the IBA after it became known that the broadcasting authority spent NIS 30 million ($8.6 million) in 2013 on attorney fees in order to chase down missing payments, Maariv reported.

“The 30 million in fees doled out to 11 different legal firms in 2013 could have been used to employ up to 300 employees, and even if you employed fewer, they would perform the same job on a smaller budget,” said committee chair and Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky .

The IBA’s TV tax collections in 2013 came to approximately NIS 461 million ($132 million).

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