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Establishment of Channel 2
Establishment of Channel 10
Establishing Regional Radio

The Establishment of Channel 2

A dream may last up to 15 minutes; its realization sometimes takes 15 years. In 1990, after 13 years of planning, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed the law governing the Second Authority for Television and Radio, and a new era in Israeli mass communications was on its way. One of the aims in establishing the Second Authority for Television and Radio was to enhance the pluralism within Israeli electronic broadcasting channels and to create competition between them.

And as soon as the Second Authority was established, the communications revolution began. In February 1993, the Authority published its tender for three franchisees who would undertake commercial broadcasts on Channel 2, which was to be financed by advertising. The tender was open to all interested commercial parties, subject to the regulations stipulated in the law.

On May 25 1993, Reshet, Keshet and Telad were selected from among the 7 groups that had formed for the purpose of applying for the tender. The winners received a 6-year franchise, extendable for an additional 4 years.

On November 4 1993, Channel 2 began to broadcast, and the Israeli viewer was given the choice of public - commercial television for the first time: Channel 2 against Channel 1 - the older, more experienced channel with its loyal viewership (financed by a license fee) and cable stations (financed by subscriptions). Thus, with the establishment of Channel 2, the 25-year monopoly of Channel 1 was finally broken. It is worth mentioning that whereas Channel 1 and the cable stations are financed directly by the general public, Channel 2 is financed by the franchisees. In accordance with the Second Authority Law, Channel 2 franchisees are subject to public scrutiny and pay the Authority a license-fee, and royalties to the national treasury.

The model is based on the British system (which has been operating in that mode for about 30 years), adapted especially for Israel and somewhat different from the original. The Israeli model combines 6 different elements: 3 commercial companies, the Israel Educational Television (which broadcasts 7% of the time), the Second Authority itself (which broadcasts 2% of the time) and the Israeli News Company, which was established and financed by the 3 commercial companies. All these parties combine to broadcast throughout the week at different time periods on the same channel.

The allotment of broadcast periods should have ostensibly made the creation of a broadcasting schedule an impossible task. Moreover, this schedule - the heart of a broadcast entity - needs to be interesting and diverse, and it must fulfill various needs throughout the week.

The first day of broadcasting fell to the hands of Telad, which commenced transmissions at 2 PM with a 5-minute newscast. By the end of the first year of broadcasting, Channel 2 stabilized at the top of Israel's ratings table. The number of viewers, double that of the older and more experienced Channel 1, was an indication of this rare, unprecedented achievement - attained throughout a year of trial broadcasts.

Channel 2 significantly changed the face of Israeli television. The broadcasting pluralism that emanated with the initiation of commercial broadcasting undermined accepted conventions on viewing habits and created new ones. This revolutionized the Israeli broadcasting map, causing significant changes in social conventions and in the setting of the public agenda. The commercial station also became a central factor in the burgeoning of the local advertising market.

In accordance with the law, which stipulates that the Second Authority must inform franchisees of its intentions regarding the following franchise period up to a year in advance of its conclusion, the Authority decreed that the three franchisees were deserving of an extension to a second franchise period, subject to certain changes and improvements that they were obliged to undertake during that period. The second -franchise period began on November 1, 1999 and continued until November 2003.

2003 marked a decade for the Second Authority's activities, and in accordance with the law, the franchise period for Channel 2 was extended by an additional 2 years, until November 2005. This was undertaken subject to the franchisees' content obligations, which included a focus on subjects pertinent to the Israeli society, the promotion of original work and quality content, and the cultivation of the local production market.

These obligations became the guiding principles in the next tender. In accordance with the law, the Authority's council, on September 20 2004, published its tender for the next 10 years of broadcasting on channel 2 - scheduled to begin on November 1 2005.

The basic premise governing the Authority's stipulations in this tender were that Channel 2 is a central element that shapes the Israeli public agenda and culture. It therefore has - alongside its financial motivation - a social responsibility to uphold. Based upon this, the following objectives have been formulated: the promotion of Israeli works and local production, the enrichment of broadcast content with preferred subject-matter pertaining Israeli society, the appropriate depiction of different social groups on the screen and the promotion of the country's social and geographic peripheries.

Tender applications were purchased by the three franchisees - Telad, Reshet and Keshet - and by two additional groups: Noga Communications and K.A.N. On January 31 2005, four proposals were presented by Telad, K.A.N, Reshet-Noga (an affiliation of Reshet and Noga Communications) and Keshet Broadcasting.

On April 11 2005, the Council convened as a Tenders Committee to discuss the applications. The deliberations extended for three days, at the end of which the Authority's Council announced Keshet Broadcasting and Reshet-Noga as the two grantees for the next franchise period.

The proposals that were presented at the tender herald a message of renewal and innovation for Channel 2 viewers. The stipulations that the Authority presented regarding changes and improvements were reflected in the proposals: budgets for local production in general and for drama and documentaries in particular have been increased; content matter is to be enriched with preferred subject matter and means-of-expression for public sectors, previously disenfranchised over the broadcast waves; and multicultural variety is to be better reflected.

This by no means indicates the end of the road. The franchisees and, indeed, the Second Authority itself will be tested based on the implementation of the proposals and their promotion from edict to practice.