Right-leaning Channel 20 wins rights to broadcast Knesset TV
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Right-leaning Channel 20 wins rights to broadcast Knesset TV

Station to begin transmissions of parliament sessions in July after beating out competitors in tender

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)

Channel 20 has won the tender to produce, manage and broadcast the Knesset Channel for the next 10 years, the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting said Thursday in a statement.

Competitors Channel 2, Channel 10 and an independent television production company lost out on the tender.

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.

Since its founding in 2006, the Knesset Channel, which broadcasts all the plenary sessions from the parliament and a range of political and current events programs, has been run by Channel 2.

According to the council’s statement, Channel 20 received the most points in a system measuring whether the production companies fulfilled the criteria to run the Knesset Channel.

The council noted that in its winning proposal Channel 20 had presented “an up-to-date graphic packaging and re-branding of the channel, along with design of a dedicated website, as well as details of the launch of the new channel.”

It will take over from Channel 2 at the end of the Knesset’s spring session in July.

Opposition MK Issawi Frej of the left-wing Meretz party criticized the decision, saying in a statement that “today we can announce the death of the Knesset Channel and the establishment of a right-wing channel operating from the Knesset.”

Channel 20's Erel Segal satirizes Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir on a February 29, 2016 show. (screen capture: YouTube)
Channel 20’s Erel Segal satirizes Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir on a February 29, 2016 show. (screen capture: YouTube)

Channel 20 came under fire in December of last year when it censured Rivlin for attending a conference in New York at which members of Breaking the Silence — a group that publishes allegations of Israeli soldiers’ transgressions against Palestinians in the West Bank — also appeared.

In March 2016 Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir claimed that a satirical skit aired on Channel 20 amounted to sexual harassment. Taking to Facebook, Shaffir slammed the channel for a segment on its show “The Patriots” in which host Erel Segel said the MK derived sexual pleasure from riding her bicycle.

Shaffir, 30, this Knesset’s youngest parliamentarian, explained in Facebook post at the time that the skit took aim at a column she had written a week earlier for the Haaretz newspaper on the topic of happiness. Shaffir, who admitted in her post to having “deep” ideological differences with the station, said the sketch veered from the comedic to the offensive.

In response, the TV station said Shaffir’s complaint was rooted in political differences, and charged that the MK “didn’t miss an opportunity to bash Channel 20.”

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