With an emotional signoff, Israel’s longest running TV news program aired its last episode Tuesday after a sudden cancellation following a political battle with the prime minister. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the shutdown of the struggling state-run broadcaster is part of reforms to create a new replacement organization, 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.
Choking back tears, Channel 1 News anchor Geula Even announced that the broadcast would be its last. The program’s staff turned out for a tearful send-off and sang the national anthem.
“This comes sooner than we expected. We thought of parting a bit differently than this,” said presenter Michal Rabinovich.
The program was canceled 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?”