Television in Israel

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Headquarters of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Jaffa Road, Jerusalem

Television in Israel refers to television broadcasting services in the State of Israel, inaugurated on March 24, 1966. Initially, there was one state-owned channel. In 1986, a second state-regulated channel was launched. This channel became a state-regulated commercial channel in 1993. An additional commercial channel was introduced in 2002, followed by the introduction of two commercial niche channels: an Israeli Russian-speaking channel (in 2002) and a channel of Israeli popular music (in 2003). Colour transmissions were introduced gradually around 1980. Satellite-based multichannel service has been available since 2000. Almost 75% of the population is subscribed to pay TV systems which are provided either by a cable service called "HOT", or by a satellite service called "yes".[1]

History[edit]

Television in Israel was introduced in 1966 with the first transmission of the Israeli Educational Television, using black-and-white television technology,[2] intended to be received by 32 schools, in attempt to use television as an instructional tool.[3] The Israeli Broadcasting Authority launched regular public transmissions on 2 May 1968, on the occasion of Israeli Independence Day. Until 1986 Israel had only one television channel shared by IETV and IBA. Experimental transmissions on a second channel started in October 1986 and expanded gradually.[4] Cable television was introduced in 1990 and satellite DTH in 2001. By mid-1994, some 720,000 Israeli households were hooked up to cable television.[5]

Colour transmissions[edit]

Mabat LaHadashot News Show

Israeli television began operations when American and European stations were switching to full-scale colour transmissions, but Israel's state-controlled stations broadcast only in black and white. According to Arnon Zuckerman, IBA director general from 1973 to March 1979, Israeli prime minister Golda Meir described colour television as "artificial" and unnecessary.[6] Yair Lapid, son of Tommy Lapid, the IBA director general from April 1979 to March 1984, claimed the IBA had the equipment for filming and broadcasting in colour for nearly a decade before putting it into use, and the introduction of colour transmissions was halted due to political pressure.[7]

Newscasts and other regular productions were filmed using black and white cameras. However many special productions ordered from private Israeli studios (in particular Herzliya Studios) were filmed and taped in colour. Furthermore, Israeli television bought many TV series and movies from American and British TV stations (broadcast with Hebrew-Arabic subtitles). The result was a mixture of colour and black and white broadcasts, which encouraged traders to import colour TV sets, especially as TV stations in neighbouring Jordan and Egypt started colour transmissions in 1974.

The Israeli government considered the import of color televisions as frivolous and a luxury that would increase social gaps. Therefore, the government ordered IBA and IETV to erase the colour from colour-taped telecasts by erasing the "burst phase" signal. The "damaged" signal triggered the "colour killer" mechanism, installed in colour TV sets to prevent the appearance of incidental colour spots on the screen when black-and-white films are broadcast or when the reception is disturbed. This method was named mekhikon (Hebrew: מחיקון‎ "eraser"), and soon after its introduction, special TV sets with an anti-mekhikon (Hebrew: אנטי-מחיקון‎ "anti-eraser") device were offered. This device reinstalled the burst phase signal according to several known standards. The client had to turn a switch until the pictures on the screen appeared in natural colours. According to a report in Yediot Aharonoth from January 1979[8] clients had to manipulate the switch every 15 minutes on average in normal conditions, or up to 10 times an hour when special problems occurred, in order to restore natural colours or if the picture suddenly turned black and white.

Based on information from owners of electricity appliance stores, the report estimated that 90% of those who bought colour TV sets also bought the anti-mekhikon device, whose price ranged between 2,500 and 4,000 Israeli lirot (the TV set itself cost 40-50 thousand lirot).[9]

The Israeli government allowed colour transmissions by the IBA in November 1977 when IBA provided live color coverage of the historical visit of the Egyptian president, Anwar El Sadat, to Israel. This transmission was sent via satellite to stations around the world. In March 1979 the IBA hosted the annual Eurovision Song Contest, and once again sent the transmission live in colour to stations around the world.

Public pressure on the issue of colour transmissions mounted, and in 1981 IBA and IETV were allowed to film their own regular productions in colour. This process took more than two years and reached the last stretch on 16 February 1983 when the main daily newscast was broadcast in colour for the first time. According to Lapid's book, this first colour newscast was prepared secretly by some "enthusiastic workers" of IBA, in order to avoid industrial actions by the technicians' trade union, who demanded higher salaries for operating colour equipment. Lapid also mentions that the anti-mekhikon system cost IBA 180 million Israeli lira yearly (approximately 64 million Israeli new shekels in 2011 prices). The IBA stopped filming in black and white on 10 May 1983.

Channel Two[edit]

In 1978 the Israeli government appointed a special committee to explore the establishment of a second channel that would not be under the IBA supervision and would be financed by advertising, however the idea of commercial television was rejected by some parties in the ruling coalition. In 7 October 1986, Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, the Israeli minister of Telecommunication ordered the beginning of "experimental transmissions" on a second channel, claiming that unless these transmissions had started, the frequencies would have been used by TV networks in neighbouring countries.First transmissions were aired on UHF channel 21 from Etanim transmission tower situated on the hills west of Jerusalem. These transmissions, which initially included 2–3 hours of video clips every evening and broadcast from a private TV studio in Jerusalem, expanded gradually to include a full program lineup. At this stage the IBA was legally responsible for the channel, but in fact it saw it as an unexpected competition, tried to prevent its inauguration, and was reluctant to take responsibility for its broadcasts. In 1986 the Knesset started discussing the law forming the Second Israeli Broadcasting Authority, which was finally approved in 1990. This new body took responsibility for the second channel from this year onwards. From 1990 to 1993 the Second Broadcasting Authority reviewed bids from commercial companies to establish the regular commercial broadcasts of the second channel, which started on 4 November 1993. The second channel was officially handed to three concessionaires, starting the first commercial broadcasts in Israel with IETV as the fourth broadcaster who was entitles, by law, for additional hours on this channel as a commercial entity. Pirated television broadcasts via cables became very popular in the major cities of Israel during the late 80s. These were usually local cable television stations broadcasting illegally from private houses to subscribers, mainly films released on video tapes. These local stations vanished with the introduction of regulated cable television in 1989.

Technical Standards[edit]

Generally speaking, most television distribution channels in Israel utilize the European Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) family of standards.

  • The Israeli cable TV provider, HOT, uses DVB-C.
  • The Israeli satellite TV provider, Yes, uses DVB-S and DVB-S2.
  • Digital terrestrial television is transmitted using DVB-T (with MPEG-4 compression) with DVB-T2 to be implementged during 2014 with the introduction of HDTV services under the Idan Plus service.
  • Analog terrestrial television w PAL transmissions were shutdown between 30.3.2011 and 13.6.2011.

Languages[edit]

Israeli television broadcasts mainly in Hebrew and English. While Hebrew is the common language of communication, numerous shows and series of different genres are bought from English-speaking countries. Unless the target audience is preschool children, subtitle translation is preferred over dubbing, not only for economic considerations. Subtitle translation is often bilingual, the secondary language being either Arabic or Russian. The state-owned Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) has an Arabic department which broadcasts news, talk shows, educational programs for children and Egyptian films on IBA's Channel 33. IBA's English department broadcasts a daily locally produced newscast. Commercial channels are obligated to broadcast a portion of their programs in Arabic and Russian, or alternatively translate programs into these languages. There is also a legal obligation on all channels to translate some of their newscasts into the Israeli Sign Language.[10]

In 2002, an Israeli Russian-speaking commercial channel was launched, named Israel Plus. A similar Arabic-speaking channel started broadcasting in March 2012, after several attempts to establish it earlier failed[11] The first bid for the establishment of this channel was published in 1995, but canceled for formal legal problems. In January 2003, a new bid was published,[12] but the winning company failed to fulfill its financial obligations.[13] A final modified bid was published on 14 April 2010,[14][15] for which eight companies competed. The Halla TV Company was selected in September 2011.

Digital terrestrial television[edit]

In August 2009, Israel launched digital terrestrial broadcasts with the intention to phase out the analogue broadcast. Israel saw the official shutdown of the analogue broadcast in June 2011. Israel was the first nation in the Middle East to abandon analogue over-the-air broadcasting. Currently 6 digital channels are broadcast.[16]

State-managed stations[edit]

Public-commercial stations[edit]

  • Channel 2
  • Channel 10
  • Music 24 (Israeli music and video clips), available only via Yes (satellite TV) and Hot ( cable TV), both pay TV systems
  • Israel Plus, in Russian, available only via Yes (satellite TV) and Hot ( cable TV), both pay TV systems
  • Israel Plus International, in Russian, export version of the local channel
  • Halla TV (Israeli Arabic-speaking channel), available only via Yes (satellite TV) and Hot ( cable TV), both pay TV systems

Most-viewed channels[edit]

Prime-time viewing shares, January–June 2012:[17]

Position Channel Group Share of total viewing (%)
1 Keshet 26.2%
2 Reshet 18.3%
3 Channel 10 7.7%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pace helps Yes transition to advanced HD digital services in Israel
  2. ^ "Meyer Ben Ari Tells about the early days of Israeli Black & White television engineering"
  3. ^ "Good Evening from Jerusalem", Yossi Nahmias recaps the birth of Israeli television, Ynet, 29 April 2008
  4. ^ Israeli Television and the National Agenda
  5. ^ Israeli Television and the National Agenda
  6. ^ Arnon Zuckerman, "Global Television", Chapter 12: "Development of Television in Israel" (p. 123), Broadcast University series, Ministry of Defense Publishing House, Israel 1999, ISBN 965-05-0995-X (in Hebrew).
  7. ^ Yair Lapid, "Memoires After my Death", Keter Books, Jerusalem 2010 (ISBN 978-965-07-1792-6), p. 239-241 (in Hebrew)
  8. ^ Report from 19 January 1979 by Leah Etgar on Yediot Aharonot's economic supplement ("HaLirot Shelkha"), partially cited in "The Future that was: Anti-Mekhikon", a historical review by Gal Mor, Ynet, 7 June 2004 (in Hebrew)
  9. ^ Ten thousand Israeli lirot in January 1979 equal about 7,000 Israeli new shekels in May 2011 prices, according to the calculator available at the website of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.
  10. ^ Elaborated overview of the subject can be found in: Weissbrod, Rachel (2010). "Translation Studies and mass media research", in: Daniel Gile, Gyde Hansen and Nike K. Pokorn (ed.), Why Translation Studies Matters?, John Benjamins Publishing Co., Amsterdam/Philadelphia.
  11. ^ Arab channel receives license from Ministry of Communication, Moshe Kachalon, Ro'i Barak, Globes, 12 September 2011 (in Hebrew)
  12. ^ Official text of the January 2003 bid (in Hebrew)
  13. ^ Announcement of the Second Authority for Television and Radio (the regulating body), 24 November 2005 (in Hebrew)
  14. ^ Official press release by the Israeli Ministry of Communication (in Hebrew)
  15. ^ "The Arabic channel bid is launched - this time with significant alleviations", Ofir Bar-Zohar, The Marker, 15 April 2010 (in Hebrew).
  16. ^ Israel DTV, IDAN+ official information webpage
  17. ^ "Television ratings rise, but ad revenues decline". Haaretz. Retrieved 24 July 2014.