Israel-10 gambles for ratings

New net spends all on local stars, imported series

TEL AVIV — Israel’s number two commercial broadcaster is about to bite the dust — and advertisers and producers are scurrying for cover.

The race for ratings has led Israel-10, not yet on air a year, to spend its entire operational budget on salaries for local stars and imported series like Fox’s “24.”

Despite a costly and aggressive marketing campaign, the station has managed to entice only an average 22% of viewers.

Israel 10 has managed to grab only 13% of the $240 million TV ad pie leaving the rest to its five-year-old competitor Channel 2.

Revenues for the station this year are expected to reach $32 million but operational costs will come close to $100 million.

Israel 10’s major shareholder and financier Yossi Meiman said last week the channel would reduce its hours of broadcast and may even go black if cash runs out.

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

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 a number of daily shows.

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.

The troubled station is asking to be exempt for 18 months from an obligation to invest an annual $65 million in locally produced content.

A government decision is expected at the end of April after the Passover holiday.

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