Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

18 Sivan 5759 - June 2, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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"Pirate" Radio Stations Pursued and Temporarily Closed

by Betzalel Kahn

The police are currently hunting for the directors and broadcasters of the "pirate" radio stations, many of which are religious-sponsored, and have even issued arrest warrants against some of them. In the wake of the current legal and media assault against the religious-sponsored pirate radio stations, a number of them have stopped their country-wide broadcasts out of fear that Broadcasting Authority representatives with the aid of the Police might raid their studios and detain their broadcasters.

Yated Ne'eman has learned that a number of the directors and broadcasters of these stations have gone underground, and some have even fled abroad until things calm down. Some directors and broadcasters of the pirate stations were interrogated, and the majority of them exercised their right to maintain silence.

Last week, excerpts from the remarks of one of the broadcasters on Kol Haneshama (a religious-sponsored station) who had made sharp comments against the secular community were aired throughout the media. The left-wing Keshev organization, which monitors and records the religious stations' programs, filed a complaint with the Police against the broadcaster who had made those remarks. As a result, the directors of Kol Haneshama feared that the police might raid the station.

Other stations also feared a similar action and decided to temporarily stop broadcasting.

Professionals in the field of radio broadcasting have said that the pirate radio broadcasts, just like the legal ones, should not disturb the airplanes at Ben-Gurion airport, because these stations broadcast on FM, which does not interfere with the airplanes. Only AM broadcasts are capable of disrupting airline activity. Only the Israel Broadcasting Authority and aviation control tower use AM.

The professionals raised the possibility that someone near the airport is deliberately and maliciously transferring the broadcasts of these stations to the planes on AM frequencies. Others suggest that someone records the pirate stations and rebroadcasts them on AM. His purpose, they believe, is to enable it to be claimed that the pirate stations are intercepting the airplanes' communication systems.

Officials of the stations said that the behavior of the police and the Communications Ministry constitutes an intolerable restriction on freedom of expression in a state in which freedom of speech is still permissible, and that they will not yield to the persecution campaign of these bodies, but will continue to broadcast divrei Torah to the public at large. The also rejected the claims that the their broadcasts cause disturbances to the intercoms of the planes. Recently, the identity of a number of people linked to regional radio stations, and who are suspected of having relayed the broadcasts of the pirate stations to the intercom airplane intercoms, has been made discovered.

Many have raised questions about the timing of the moves to suppress the independent broadcasters, coming right after the elections in the Left won power in the government.

MK Rabbi Ravitz turned to the (outgoing) Communications Minister, Limor Livnat, demanding that those responsible for preventing communications interference not penalize innocent stations. "The Knesset has passed legislation authorizing a number of broadcasting stations, and all procedures against them must be halted. I know that there was an `attack' on a radio station which does not cause any interference whatsoever, something which makes a very unfavorable impression on a large sector of people. I don't think that any procedures whatsoever against stations which do not cause interference should be made upon this `festive' occasion," Rabbi Ravitz said.

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