Comments on the Communication Law Memorandum (Broadcasting), 2023

The Brandeis Institute believes that the proposed Law strengthens the government ministers’ power, even beyond the significant power they already possess. This could lead to an increase in political power and strengthening of the government.

The Memorandum raises concerns about the structure of the Authority for Broadcast Communications (the new authority), which is to be established under the Memorandum. All members of the new authority will be appointed directly or indirectly by the Minister of Communication and other government officials. This structure could lead to a political takeover of news broadcasts and is directly contrary to the stated purpose of the Law, which is to ensure the independence of the new authority. Furthermore, this structure contradicts the recommendations of the State Comptroller’s report on the “Independence of Regulatory Bodies in the Field of Broadcasting” (dated March 2020), and the Supreme Court’s ruling according to which governmental interference in the media is a “forbidden subordination”. The Brandeis Institute believes that the independence of the broadcasting entity’s news company as well as the independence of the CEO (which also acts as the editor-in-chief), must be guaranteed. The proposed Memorandum abolishes these supervisory mechanisms and does not offer an alternative effective mechanism to ensure the independence of news broadcasts.

The Memorandum proposes a model of competition in the media market that could harm news broadcasts, bias broadcast content in an unmonitored way, and fundamentally harm essential mechanisms that are the lifeblood of democracy. This concern is reflected in the cancellation of the obligation of supervised entities to broadcast news through the news company and the transition to news broadcasts based on “market forces”, while canceling the existing structural separation model. The Memorandum does not address any structural restriction on the holdings of a licensee in any other business or economic activity that is not in the field of communications. The lack of such restrictions raises the concern that certain factors might take over several media platforms. Therefore, the proposed law does not address a serious and extreme deficiency in the news broadcasting market in Israel.