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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

IBA plans 24/7 news channel

Talk about a news channel modeled along the lines of CNN has been floating around for years.

While he welcomed the announcement on the Monday night Channel 1 news that the Israel Broadcasting Authority will be converting Channel 33 to a total news and actuality channel, Steve Leibowitz, the editorin- chief of the English language IBA News did not permit himself to become euphoric.

Talk about a news channel modeled along the lines of CNN has been floating through the corridors of the IBA for years without any real sign of progress.

It was the big dream of former IBA director-general Yosef Barel when he launched Channel 33 well over a decade ago.

But the dream was realized only partially during Barel’s tenure. The IBA News can also be seen on Channel 33, but news broadcasts in French and Russian did not eventuate, and are not likely to on Channel 33 at any time in the foreseeable future.

For the time being, the plan is to broadcast in Hebrew, Arabic and English, but if a budget becomes available, the number of languages may be expanded.

Leibowitz is only too eager for the plan to come to fruition.

“It’s a nice concept,” he said in a telephone interview, adding that if the money to finance the project is available, then this is a wonderful thing.

From many discussions that Leibowitz has had with IBA chairman Amir Gilat, he is well aware that Gilat is committed to the idea, and said initially Gilat had asked him to prepare a proposal for four hours a day of broadcasting.

The proposal is likely to remain in Leibowitz’s drawer for some years to come.

At this stage of the game, the best he can hope for is to continue the existing news program in its current late-afternoon/earlyevening time slot plus a late-night program.