Just a month ago, Reshet announced that it was calling off the long-planned marriage, blaming foot-dragging by the country’s broadcasting authority. But on Thursday evening in Israel, the authority voted to approve the merger, with the two networks reportedly expected to begin airing on one channel starting Jan. 1.
“The approval this evening is an important and critical step toward regulating the television market in Israel,” said the owners of the two networks in a statement. “Merging the activities of Reshet and Channel Ten will allow the merged company to hold on to the majority of its employees and to offer the Israeli viewer better television, based on investing in quality and original content.”
The two networks first announced their intention to merge in June. They had both been suffering since a government-mandated split between Reshet and rival broadcaster Keshet took effect in November 2018, creating three commercial networks in Israel for the first time in history.
In August, the country’s Antitrust Authority approved the merger, but the broadcast authority took its time considering the move, and was accused of foot-dragging out of political motives. Last month, Reshet announced that it was canceling the merger because of the broadcast authority’s indecision, saying it could not continue to operate in limbo.
After Thursday’s vote, the broadcast authority said that it had “held a professional and transparent hearing process.” It said it was “convinced that – considering the state of the current market – carrying out the merger is justified.”
Reshet is expected to sell its stake in the Channel 2 News Company and fully absorb Channel Ten’s news division. The two networks began to sketch out their joint operations over the summer, but put them on hold last month.
Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said Thursday that he welcomed the broadcasting authority’s decision, and has directed relevant bodies to examine the ways to “preserve freedom of opinion for all sectors of Israeli society and allow fair competition in commercial television broadcasts.”