JERUSALEM (Jan. 12)
Israel Television broadcasts were off the air today for the third consecutive day because of a dispute involving disciplinary action taken against the chairman of the technician’s committee.
Israel Television technician’s staff committee members said they would return to work only after committee chairman Hezi Koka is reinstated. He was suspended by the Broadcasting Authority last Thursday for refusing to allow a segment of film, provided by a foreign news agency, from being broadcast.
The State-owned radio was also off the air for five hours last Thursday night, as a sign of solidarity with the television employes.
BACKGROUND OF DISPUTE
The incident leading to Koka’s suspension followed his decision to black out a segment of last Wednesday night’s newsreel involving disturbances on the Temple Mount, during the visit there that morning by a group of Knesset members.
Israel Television did not have enough of its own footage for the broadcast and wanted to make use of a film segment obtained by satellite from the British Visnews television agency. The technicians refused to handle the film, claiming it was taken with equipment not covered in their works agreement and which they were not prepared to use.
Israel Broadcasting Authority director Uri Porat, furious at what he said was another example of the state of anarchy at the television operation, summoned an urgent meeting of the management committee which voted unanimously to suspend Koka and bring him before a disciplinary tribunal.
Histadrut officials had warned Porat that suspending Koka would cause a strike, but Porat and the committee maintained that Koka’s position as the committee chairman did not exempt him from disciplinary action.
Observers here suggest that the government-appointed television Board of Governors would be glad to close down the service for week or so, to reorganize the service and ensure that management, and not reporters or technicians, decide what should be aired and what not.
In the interim, Israelis have switched to Jordan or the Christian missionary Voice of Hope television broadcasts from south Lebanon, to replace the dark screens on the Israeli channels.
There will be no Daily News Bulletin dated January 20, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a postal holiday.