Newspapers must stand or fall on their ability to attract readers, advertisers and, if necessary, contributors. The heavy thumb of government support must be kept off the scale. This bill is simply a back-door way of providing financial support to newspapers that charge their readerships by prohibiting their competitors from obtaining a competitive advantage by not charging. Freedom of the press includes the right to break into an established market by subsidizing the cost of publication and to remain in the market by continuing that practice. It also protects the right of a business person to operate under a business model in which revenue is a function of advertising rather than of direct payment for the product. The government should have no right to tell the publisher of a newspaper how best to compete, how to maximize his political impact, how to earn a profit, how to increase circulation or how to run his or her business.And indeed, a business owner cannot be forced to take money when that's not his intention. In fact, if need be, I'd suggest Sheldon Adelson take the matter to court to ensure his ability to prevent government interference.
The most alarming thing about this mess is how even right-wing politicians like Naftali Bennett would lend themselves to something that could prove a disaster for their own side in the future. Based on which, will he think wisely and back off this offensive maneuver of his?
Gonen Ginat's also spoken out against Yediot Achronot's owner Noni Mozes for engineering this mess on his part, and professor Aviad Hacohen's added his voice to the list of objectors to this bill whose right-wing supporters are only making themselves look bad, and could easily jeopardize their electoral chances. He says:
The bill currently being deliberated by the Knesset is particularly damaging because of its scope and because of the powers it grants the government. This is a law that is well beyond what is currently on the books. It is not just about news items that could occasionally be embargoed by the Israeli Military Censor, nor does it address libelous publications and potential remedies. We are talking about wide-scale, preemptive media blackouts.In other words, they're doing the exact opposite of what most conservatives consider harmful - they're endorsing huge government. They'd do well to quit now, and also to apologize to the public they're disrespecting for their part in this offensive assault on free speech and business.