Cable Net Jewish News One Shutters to Become Ukraine News 1

An international news network focused solely on the Jewish world and bankrolled by two astonishingly wealthy Ukrainian oligarchs has been suddenly shuttered this week, replaced by a Ukrainian network with a propaganda slant.

Jewish News One (JN1) was founded in 2011 by Vadim Rabinovich and multibillionaire Igor Kolomoisky, both Ukrainian Jewish businessmen who touted the channel as the “Jewish answer to Al Jazeera.” Padded by its funders’ deep pockets and staffed by an Israeli bureau and a team of global stringers, JN1 was a 24/7 news network reporting international news around the clock, all with a slant geared toward the Jewish world.

The station claims to have reached an average of 70 million viewers during its three years on the airwaves, with satellite coverage beaming it into households on five continents. In the U.S., it was broadcast for eight hours daily as JLTV on both cable and DirecTV. But with unrest stirring in Ukraine and Rabinovich, who is Jewish, said to be gearing up for a presidential bid, staffers over the past month began hearing murmurs of a potential closure. Last week, in a strange bit of timing that corresponded with the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover, all employees were informed of their termination and the station was renamed UN1, or Ukraine News 1.

Little additional information was offered.

“No one has confirmed anything, but Rabinovich wanted to turn this channel into his own propaganda channel for his presidency,” said Ron Jacobsohn, JN1’s chief correspondent, who along with correspondent Sivan Raviv staffed the station’s Israel bureau. “Financially there was no indication of trouble because the station was a non-profit … but we all knew that as soon as they got tired of this toy, they could just shut it down any minute they wanted to. And that’s what they did.”

Rabinovich and Kolomoisky could not be reached for comment.

Last year, the Israeli 24/7 news station i24news, which broadcasts in English, Arabic and French, entered the market, but Jacobsohn says that i24 never served as a true competitor for JN1, because while it does most of its reporting inhouse from a flashy set of offices south of Tel Aviv, JN1 was heavily reliant on first-hand reports from global stringers. And while the print market for Jewish publications remains saturated, Jacobsohn says he is concerned that with the shuttering of JN1, there is now a troubling gap in the market.

“We’re journalists. One day we’re here and one day we’re there. I’ll find another job,” he says. “But having one channel broadcasting news to Jews all over the world, for a people that 70 years ago didn’t have news that the Holocaust was happening — that was major.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • 'Game of Thrones' Fashion at the

    'Game of Thrones,' Fashion Slayers: HBO's Drama Winners Also Shined on the Carpet

    The cast of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” knew how to make an entrance (and an exit) on Sunday night at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Before winning the night’s final trophy, Best Drama Series, stars like Emilia Clarke and Gwendoline Christie pulled out some fantastical looks on the purple carpet, with Clarke donning the mother-of-all-earrings by [...]

  • Emmys Fashion: Best Dressed on the

    Emmys: Best Fashion on the Purple Carpet

    The biggest stars in television stepped out on the Emmy purple carpet on Sunday night in a stunning display of gowns and vivacious looks. Fashion expert Brooke Jaffe, who visited Variety’s set after the show, picked some of her favorite dresses of the night, which included Zendaya’s truly enviable Vera number and Mandy Moore in [...]

  • Emmys 2019: Biggest Winners and Losers

    Winners and Losers of the 71st Emmy Awards

    The 71st Emmy Awards was a spectacular affair for the Brits, while broadcast networks all but vanished. Watch Variety’s Elaine Low and Audrey Yap unpack TV’s biggest night of the year, which saw “Game of Thrones” and “Fleabag” take home the top prizes, winning best drama series and best comedy series, respectively. Popular on Variety

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmy Viewers Not 'Feelin' Good' About Bizarre Music Choices

    It was known ahead of time that the Emmy Awards planned to dispense with a traditional orchestra or pit band for the walk-up and bumper music. What wasn’t anticipated was that the music choices were being outsourced to a bar mitzvah DJ in Des Moines. Or, very possibly, it was a local who had found [...]

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmys: Big 4 Broadcasters Post Lowest Combined Wins Ever

    The Big 4 broadcast networks put a cap on their worst year in Emmy history on Sunday night. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC brought home just 16 Emmy Awards — the lowest combined total in history for the four major broadcast networks. The previous low was 19 combined wins in 2016. Last year, the networks [...]

  • Karamo BrownLA LGBT Center 'Hearts of

    Karamo Brown Addresses Backlash Against Sean Spicer Comments

    Karamo Brown has doubled down on comments he made about his fellow “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Sean Spicer, in which he promoted the idea of meeting political adversaries “in the middle.” The amicable “Queer Eye” host received criticism when he said he was “most excited to meet” Spicer ahead of the show’s 28th season, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content