With an emotional signoff, Israel’s longest running TV news programme aired its last episode Tuesday after a sudden cancellation following a political battle with the prime minister.
Choking back tears, Channel 1 News anchor Geula Even announced that the broadcast would be its last. The programme’s staff turned out for a tearful send-off and sang the national anthem. Even found out while on air that it would be her last show on the programme. The staff members knew of plans to shut the Israel Broadcasting Authority, but did know when it would happen.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the shutdown of the struggling state-run broadcaster is part of reforms to create a new replacement organisation, but staffers and opposition lawmakers accuse him of trying to control the media and defang the public news outlet.
The state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority was notified an hour before Tuesday’s broadcast that “Mabat LaHadashot” (A glance at the news), which has been on-air for 49 years, was to be shut down.
“This comes sooner than we expected. We thought of parting a bit differently than this,” said presenter Michal Rabinovich.
The program was cancelled ahead of the long-anticipated launch of a new public broadcaster, which Netanyahu has stripped of its news division. A separate entity will broadcast current events instead.
The launch of the new broadcasting entity has been postponed multiple times and is currently slated for May 15.
“It’s a mark of disgrace on this government,” veteran journalist Ya’akov Ahimeir said. “They notify you two hours before going on air that this is the last Mabat. What are we, criminals?”