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Dispute over Song Festival

August 16, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin rejected yesterday a decision by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) not to hold the Eurovision song contest in Israel next year. The IBA board of directors decided Monday not to hold the contest on the grounds that television must devote all its resources to preparations for the age of color. Israel is the only country in this part of the Mideast which still broadcasts in black and white.

The Eurovision song contest was held this year in Jerusalem and was a declared success, by the actual production — and by Israel winning the first prize, which entitled the winning country to host the contest once again.

But Yosef Lapid, IBA director general, argued that in its present state, TV could not both switch over to color and undertake another Eurovision special without causing harm to programming. “Television has not yet recovered from this year’s contest,” Lapid said. According to IBA, the Eurovision budget would have amounted to IL 20 million.

But Yadin sent a cable yesterday to Education Minister Zevulun Hammer, who is in charge of implementing the IBA law, and declared that the government and not the IBA should take the decision of this sort. The main argument in favor of holding the contest here is the opportunity for international exposure. In a reaction, Prof. Reuven Yaron, chairman of the IBA, said It was fully within the IBA’s competence to make such a decision.

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