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Israeli net on its last legs

Poor ratings, expensive marketing cited

TEL AVIV — Israel’s No. 2 commercial broadcaster is about to bite the dust — and advertisers and producers are scurrying for cover.

The ratings race has spurred Israel 10, not yet a year old, to spend its operational budget on salaries for local stars and imported series like Fox’s “24.” Revs for the station this year are expected to reach $32 million but operational costs will approach $100 million.

Despite a costly and aggressive marketing campaign, it has attracted an average of only 22% of viewers and 13% of the $240 million TV ad pie. Five-year-old rival Channel 2 takes the rest of the ad market.

Israel 10 has already laid off a great part of its inhouse staff and is unable to pay for purchased content. Some local producers have frozen production on daily shows.

Leading producers and advertising agencies gathered in emergency meetings and pledged their support to keep the troubled channel on the air.

Israel 10 has appealed to Parliament’s economic committee, which went into emergency session to study regulatory changes that will allow the channel to stay afloat.

A government decision is expected at the end of April.

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