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Israel announces first commercial TV station

After 10 years of political delays, Supreme Court injunctions and endless disputes over ownership and control, Israel finally got what it’s been waiting for: a commercial TV channel.

The Second Channel Authority, the administrative body established by the Ministry of Communications to oversee the running of the new station, announced Tuesday the three companies to be awarded a TV franchise.

Each company will broadcast programs two days of the week, with every third Saturday being rotated among them. The financial structure of the station will be based solely on commercial advertising.

There was no shortage of optimism at the press conference to award the franchises. Said Israeli communications minister Moshe Shachel: “This is clearly the most important development in this country’s media industry since Israel TV (ITV) was established in 1968.”

At the top of the franchise list was favorite Telad Studios. Its general manager, Uzi Peled, was one of the original founders of ITV in 1968. Telad’s major partner is Shamrock Prods., the investment arm of the Walt Disney Co.

Telad has signed agreements to purchase programs from ABC, MGM and Fox in the U.S., and Central TV, Elton Films, Granada TV and Vic Television in London.

The other two companies awarded a franchise are Keshet and Reshet. Keshet is run by Alex Giladi, a former vice president in the sports department at NBC. Reshet is headed by Dan Shilon, a major TV personality in Israel and formerly the head of the news department at Israel TV. Reshet has signed an agreement with NBC for the American network to provide it with technical services and know-how. It will also purchase programs from the BBC in England.

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