LOS ANGELES, Sept. 24 (JTA) — A new Israel-based television network is broadcasting programs to those in the United States and Canada who want to stay in touch with the Jewish state.
The Israeli Network will feature three eight-hour segments every day — except Yom Kippur — drawing its programs from Israel’s Channel 1, Channel 2, Sports Channel and Educational Television, as well as movies and documentaries from Israel’s Broadcasting Authority.
The primary target audience consists of the Israeli population in North America, which Shlomo Wolfhart, the new company’s founder and CEO, estimates at around 600,000.
“We also hope to reach American Jews through daily English-language newscasts, children’s programs geared toward teaching Hebrew, general cultural events and some Hebrew programs with English subtitles,” said Wolfhart, speaking by phone from his studio in the Israeli city of Kfar Saba.
“We’ll bring you the Israeli perspective, so you don’t have to rely on CNN,” he said.
Subscribers can sign up for the Israeli package alone at $19.99 per month, or combine it, at a higher fee, with a selection of American channels. Homes with cable television alone cannot receive the programs.
Commercials will advertise both Israeli and American products, with sales representatives in New York and Los Angeles.
Because of the time difference between the United States and Israel, most programs will be by delayed transmission, except for soccer games and breaking news, which will air live. The Israeli Network was officially launched on Sept. 14 with full page ads in Hebrew-language newspapers in North America, three days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
As a result of the disaster, phone calls were erratic and the New York office had to close down for its first four days. It is now up and running, said manager Anat Weinstock. During its first year, the network expects to sign up between 20,000 and 25,000 subscribers. Future plans include expanding the satellite feed to Europe, including Russia, and South America — and some original programs from Israeli enclaves in Los Angeles, New York and Miami.
Financial backers of the new venture include New Regency Productions in Hollywood, headed by Israeli American producer Arnon Milchan, as well as a number of Israeli investors.
The service is available through the Dish Network, a digital broadcasting satellite company that can be contacted at www.dishnetwork.com. The Israel Network’s U.S. office is in New York and can be reached at (212) 925-9907, or through the Web site at www.theisraelinetwork.com.