This article surveys and analyzes recent revolutionary and evolutionary transformations in the Israeli media. It examines trends both in the traditional media–newspapers, television, and radio–and the new media–internet. The article provides data and analysis on media history, type, political and ideological orientation, ownership, regulation, funding, and popularity. It explores developments in the national and the local print media and in public and commercial television and radio networks. Special attention is given to the exponential growth in penetration and utilization of the internet. The article also examines past and current distribution of advertising revenues among the various media. The concluding section presents a balanced assessment of achievements and weaknesses in the Israeli media.
Since the late 1980s, Israeli media has undergone a complete transformation. Most of the political and ideological party newspapers disappeared, and the single public television channel has lost substantial audiences to new commercial television channels and to cable and satellite services. New media has stormed the country, and the ratio of Israeli households connected to the internet is one of the highest in the world. The media in Israel predated the official establishment of the state in 1948. Hebrew newspapers were an integral part of the Jewish revival in the land of Israel, beginning in the mid–nineteenth century. The first Hebrew newspapers were established in Jerusalem in 1863. Ha’aretz (The Land), one of the leading existing daily newspapers, was founded in 1918. The most popular daily today, Yediot Aharonot (Latest News), was established in 1939. Radio service in Hebrew began in 1936.
The Israeli media includes four general daily newspapers, three daily financial newspapers, hundreds of local papers and magazines, three national television channels, popular cable and satellite services, two public radio networks, 14 regional radio stations, and thousands of websites and portals. This diversified media world, especially in broadcasting and new media, has emerged only since the late 1980s, due to technological, economic, and political changes. Until the early 1990s, there was only one public television channel and two public radio networks. The political establishment resisted efforts to open up the electronic media market, because it exercised some political control and influence over the institutions regulating and operating television and radio broadcasts. The revolution in communications technologies, the ability to broadcast–often live–from almost every place in the world to almost any other place, and the internet created global news networks, consumers, and economic interests. Accompanied by unprecedented prosperity in the Israeli economy, the communications revolution created enormous pressure on the government to expand the electronic media through privately owned commercial networks.
This article provides basic information on the Israeli media and traces fundamental transformations both in the traditional and new media. It first examines turning points in the print media, and then presents and analyzes changes in the electronic media, including television and radio. Data on exposure to newspapers and ratings of television programs and radio networks is also provided. The following section summarizes major trends in the new media. Most media channels rely on advertising revenues; the next section presents significant recent changes in the distribution of allocations. The last section includes a balanced assessment of achievements and weaknesses in the Israeli media.
Table 1 presents major Israeli newspapers currently published in four languages: Hebrew, English, Russian, and Arabic. There are four major independent daily Hebrew newspapers in Israel today. There are also three financial dailies. Although over the years many newspapers have closed, especially the party dailies, a new daily newspaper, Israel Hayom (Israel Today) was established in 2007, and a new financial newspaper, Calcalist (Economist), was founded in 2008. Ha’aretz is an elite newspaper while Yediot Aharonot (hereafter referred to as Yediot), Ma’ariv (Evening), and Israel Hayom are tabloid popular newspapers, except that unlike similar papers around the world, these devote substantial space to news and commentary. Ha’aretz was traditionally a morning newspaper while Yediot and Ma’ariv were evening newspapers, but today they all are published and distributed in the early morning hours. Ha’aretz is a very left-oriented paper while the other three are mainstream.
Table 1: Daily Newspapers
Mirkay Tikshoret & Canwest Global Communications
Ha’aretz/International Herald Tribune
Schoken & New York Times
*In 2005, TheMarker became the financial section of Ha’aretz, but since January 2008 it has also been sold separately. **Merged with Makor Rishon on April 25, 2007, and is nolonger affiliated with the National Religious Party (NRP). ***National Religious Party ****Arab-Jewish Communist-Socialist Party
All the daily newspapers are owned by families who also own commercial conglomerates. The Moses family owns Yediot and a financial newspaper, Calcalist (a Hebrew twist on the name Economist), local newspapers, newspapers in Russian and Arabic, and a publishing house. It is also a partner in a music firm. The Nimrodi family owns Ma’ariv, local newspapers, magazines, a record company, a publishing house, an advertising company, and firms in the areas of insurance, real estate, and health. The Shocken family owns Ha’aretz, TheMarker, local newspapers, and a publishing house. Sheldon Adelson, an American Jewish tycoon, owns Israel Hayom. Eliezer Fishman owns Globes and is a minor partner in the ownership of Yediot. The literature on newspaper ownership is filled with claims about the control and influence of owners on news and contents of their respective newspapers. Experts who are not necessarily neo-Marxists also claim that by owning a newspaper the rich acquire too much influence on politicians and government officials. At least in Israel, no evidence has been produced to verify such claims.
Of the many party newspapers published in the pre-independence period and in subsequent years, only four survived. All the Hebrew party papers are affiliated with orthodox religious parties: Hatzofe (The Observer) was affiliated with Mafdal, the National Religious Party, but in 2007 merged with Makor Rishon (The First Source), a right-wing weekly news magazine. Yated Ne’eman (Loyal Stake) is affiliated with Degel Hatorah, and Hamodia (The Announcer) is aligned with Agudat Israel. Hamodia also publishes an English version for readers in the United States and the UK, while Yated Ne’eman publishes a weekly edition in English in the United States. The religious papers have been able to survive because their readers have been captive and faithful. The same idea applies to the fourth surviving party paper, the Israeli Arab al-Ittihad (The Union), which has always been identified with the Israeli Communist Party under the various names it has adopted over the years (Maki, Rakah, and Hadash).
The English-language Jerusalem Post was established in 1932 under the name the Palestine Post and for six decades had no competition. In 1997, Ha’aretz started an English version, which is distributed together with a short version of the International Herald Tribune. The English newspapers primarily serve immigrants from English-speaking countries, foreign reporters, diplomats, and foreign businessmen. Foreign reporters extensively use the English version of Ha’aretz as a significant source of information about Israel. As a very left-oriented newspaper, however, Ha’aretz represents only a fraction of the Israeli polity and society, and those depending on it receive a slanted view of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1992, following massive Russian immigration to Israel, Yediot started Vesti (News), a major newspaper in Russian. The Israeli Arab minority has several weekly papers including al-Sinarah (Lighthouse) and Kul al-Arab (All the Arabs).
Two measures help to assess the popularity of newspapers: circulation and exposure. Newspapers are reluctant to provide information on circulation, while advertisers are more interested in exposure because they assume that a single copy is read by more than one person. Data on circulation of Israeli newspapers is hard to find. In 1995, Yediot published approximately 350,000 copies on weekdays and 600,000 copies on weekends, while Ma’ariv published about 150,000 copies on weekdays and 250,000 copies on weekends. Ha’aretz‘s circulation was around 50,000 on weekdays and 60,000 on weekends. In 2006, Ha’aretz said it printed an average of 70,000 copies on weekdays and an average of 94,000 copies on weekends.
Much more reliable information is available on exposure. Table 2 shows declining exposure for all the general newspapers. From 2001 to 2007, exposure to Yediot and Ma’ariv declined by about ten percent. Exposure to Ha’aretz declined by about two percent. Yediot is the most popular paper in Israel; Ma’ariv occupies second place while Ha’aretz is lagging far behind. In 2007, exposure to Yediot both during weekdays and on weekends was larger than the exposure of the three other newspapers combined. Yediot became known as the “state’s newspaper” and Ma’ariv presented itself as “a newspaper for everybody,” while Ha’aretz did exactly the opposite by appealing mostly to elites via the slogan: “a newspaper for thinking people
Table 2: Exposure to Major Daily Newspapers, 2001-2007
*Jewish adults above age 18–Average reading newspaper edition. *Weekdays: Sunday-Thursday; Weekends: Friday. Newspapers are not published on Saturdays and holidays. Source: TGI survey by Tele-Gal, http://www.telegal.co.il/enindex.html.
Yediot and Ma’ariv have been engaged in a fierce competition ever since a group of prominent journalists left Yediot and established Ma’ariv in 1948. During the 1950s and the 1960s, Ma’ariv was the most popular daily in Israel, but Yediot became the dominant paper in the 1980s. Table 3 shows that from 1975 to 1995, exposure to Yediot increased substantially, but since 1995 it has gone down. Still, in 2007, Yediot had twice as much exposure both on weekdays and weekends than Ma’ariv.
Table 3:Exposure to Ma’ariv vs. Yediot Aharonot, 1975-2007
*Jewish adults above age 18–Average reading newspaper edition. Sources: For 1975 and 1985: Dan Caspi and Yehiel Limor, The In/Outsiders: The Media in Israel (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1999); for 1995: Israel Advertisers’ Association; for 2001-2007: TGI survey by Tele-Gal.
Hundreds of local newspapers, mostly weeklies, are published in every city. Many serve a group of adjacent towns. Most are operated by chains created by the owners of Yediot, Ma’ariv,and Ha’aretz. The rest are independent and privately owned. They appear mostly on Friday and are added without cost to regular subscribers of the national newspapers. They are also available for purchase at local outlets. More than half of the local newspapers in Israel operate in the central region of the country, while the rest are almost equally divided between the northern and the southern parts. Numerous local newspapers are mostly advertising publications with little news content and are delivered free to all households. A typical local paper includes reports on city or town matters and sections on movies, music, theater, exhibitions, education, sports, leisure, public safety, and gossip, among other topics. City government issues, sports, and gossip are the most popular. Newspapers of the big chains also include syndicated columns, particularly on sports, arts, and leisure. Hundreds of magazines, mostly weeklies and monthlies, are published in Israel. They cover a variety of general and specific topics including women, youth, children, traveling, cars, entertainment, education, business, and health.
Israel began television broadcasts only in the late 1960s. The state’s founder and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, thought that television would corrupt culture and arts. He feared that watching television would lead people to read and attend cultural events (such as theater, concerts, and exhibitions) less. In addition, the Israeli economy was weak, and people consumed only basic commodities. The market could not sufficiently support commercial television networks, and the government did not want to spend tax money on television. This attitude changed in 1965, when the government authorized privately funded educational television broadcasts for the first time. Israel is probably the only country in the world where an educational channel existed before the launching of a general television channel.
Another significant change occurred after the 1967 Six Day War. During the war, Arab television networks enjoyed a monopoly over pictures from the battlefields. They mainly broadcast propaganda, and the coverage was highly distorted and misleading. Consequently, the Israeli government decided to establish a public television station, Israel Television, which began broadcasting in 1968. Israel Television and Educational Television shared the same channel; the former broadcasted in the evenings and the latter in the mornings. In 1994, Israel Television also established a second public channel (33). The first commercial channel, Channel 2, began broadcasting in November 1993. A second commercial channel, Channel 10, began broadcasting in January 2002. With the introduction of commercial television channels, Israel Television became Channel 1. Channels 1 and 2 are terrestrial while the others are available only through cable or satellite services. Multi-channel cable television started in 1989, and DBS (Direct Broadcasting Satellite) began in 2000. Both are operated by private commercial companies, HOT and Yes respectively.
Liberal democracies use three models to develop and regulate broadcast media: public networks, commercial networks, and a mixed model of the two. Israel started with the first model. Until 1989, all television and the radio networks were public. Since then, the government adopted the mixed model. It kept the public channels but awarded broadcasting licenses to private television and radio companies. Various government ministries and regulatory bodies supervise and regulate television broadcasts in Israel. The government has thus maintained some influence on the media. Table 4 presents information on ownership, funding, and regulation patterns for the different television channels. Channels 1 and 33 are funded mostly via annual fees paid by every household and sponsorships. They operate via a BBC-type public body, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA). The IBA chairman, board of directors, and general director are selected and appointed by the government through a minister responsible for the organization. Educational Television is funded by the Ministry of Education and sponsors.
Table 4: Television Ownership, Funding, and Regulation
Cable & Satellite
Fee + Sponsors
Council for Cable & Satellite Broadcasting
1 (1968)33 (1994)
*Israel Broadcasting Authority **Second Authority for Television and Radio ***Year Founded. Educational Television is funded by the Ministry of Education
The two commercial Channels, 2 and 10, are financed via advertising revenues and are regulated by the Second Authority for Television and Radio (SATR). The chairman and members of this authority are selected and approved by the Ministry for Communications. Today, two private communications firms, Keshet and Reshet, jointly operate channel 2, dividing and rotating broadcasting days between them. They both operate together with the SATR a single news department. In 2006, the news budget of Channel 2 was about $20 million. Channel 10 is operated by one company. Educational Television operates its own cable channel (23) but has slots also on Channels 1 and 2. The network broadcasts about 215 hours weekly, and about 40 percent of the programs are produced in-house while the rest are imported.
Table 5 reveals that in 2005 there were about 1,736,000 households in Israel. Most Jewish and non-Jewish households own television sets. The percentage for Jews (91 percent) is slightly less than the percentage for the total population (92 percent), mainly because leaders of ultra-orthodox Jews do not permit owning television sets or watching television. Among non-Jews, many Bedouins also do not own television sets.
Table 5: Television Access
Percentage of TV Sets
Above Age 4
Above Age 4
Source: Tele-Gal, 2005.
In August 2003, the founding cable companies merged into one company (HOT) in order to better compete in the fixed telephony and internet market and against the Yes-DBS services. The cable and DBS channels are obligated to carry a basic package including the major public and commercial stations, but they also offer a large variety of local and foreign channels in many general and specific areas and in many languages. In 2008, about 57 percent of all households (1 million) subscribed to the cable services while about 27 percent (460,000) subscribed to the Yes-DBS service. In 2001, the cable operators introduced digital transmission technology. In 2008, about 75 percent of all multi-channel subscribers receive digital service, including interactivity options–one of the highest digital ratios in the world. The cable and satellite services are regulated by another body, the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting.
Figure 1 describes the distribution of top-rated television programs by genre. Most viewers preferred to watch comedy, reality, and news. This result is not surprising, given the dynamic and rapidly changing events in Israeli politics, security, and economics. Israelis are “addicted” to news, and because of the tension they frequently escape to the world of media entertainment. Excluding news, the distribution of the highest-rating programs in Israel is similar to that of top television programs in the United States and in many other developed countries. For several years, a popular satire show, Eretz Nehederet (A Wonderful State), has topped the list with an average rating of 30 percent. The show presents a mockery of events, politicians, and celebrities via a humoristic simulated news program. Top comedy programs primarily include original series, while reality programs include original and adopted foreign formats such as Survivor or American Idol, and foreign programs such as Seinfeld. The most popular sports telecasts include broadcast of basketball games in the Euroleague. Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv has won several European championships. A very popular quiz show has been a locally adopted version of One Against 100.
Figure 1: 25 Top-Rated Television Shows by Genre, January 2008
Programs aired between January 6 and 12, 2008 Source: The Israel Audience Research Board, Tele-Gal, TNS
Figure 2 demonstrates the overwhelming dominating status of Channel 2 in Israeli television. On average, Channel 2 has consistently captured the top ten slots on the weekly rating list. Figure 2 shows that Channel 10, with a highly popular reality show and improved news programs, has begun to challenge Channel 2. Since April 2007, the monthly average rating of Channel 1’s top programs did not make the monthly list of the top 25 programs. In all of January and February 2008, not even one single program of the veteran public channel appeared among the 25 top rated programs. News programs on Israeli television channels are highly prestigious and receive high ratings. Trends since 2005 reveal considerable transformations. In the first week of January 2005, the average rating for Channel 2 prime-time evening news was 23.9 percent (fourth place on the top 25 programs list), and for Channel 1 news it was 12.2 percent (twentieth place). In January 2006, only Channel 2 news was among the top 25 programs, with an average rating of 24.8 percent (fifth place). In January 2007, Channel 2’s news average rating was 16.7 percent (eleventh place), and the average rating of Channel 10 news was 9.2 percent (twentieth place). In January 2008, the average rating of Channel 2 news was 20 percent (fifth place) while that of Channel 10 was 13 percent (twenty-second place). The data shows that Channel 2 was losing audiences to Channel 10, and this trend is likely to continue.
Figure 2: Top-Rated Programs by Channel, 2007-2008
Monthly average, top 25 programs Source: The Israel Audience Research Board, Tele-Gal, TNS Radio
The leading radio network in Israel is Kol Israel (Voice of Israel), which started in 1936 as the Voice of Jerusalem. Today it operates seven channels: A, culture and education; B, news; C, popular Israeli music; D, the Arabic network; classical music; 88 FM, quality music; and Reka, foreign languages for new immigrants. Galei Zahal (IDF Radio, owned and operated by the Israeli Defense Forces) was established in 1950 and operates two channels. The main network broadcasts primarily news, talk shows, and music, and the second (Galgalatz) focuses on traffic reports and music. The junior staff consists mostly of young soldiers, women and men, who do their compulsory military service at the station. The station is very popular among youth and young people primarily because of the informal presentation style and modern music. For many years the station has served as the main training school for broadcast journalists, and today former professionals of the station occupy many leading positions in the Israeli media.
The communications revolution in broadcasting also facilitated the establishment of commercial regional radio stations. The first stations began broadcasting in September 2005. Today there are 12 regional stations spread all over the country and two stations designated for specific audiences, one in Arabic for Israeli Arabs and the other for orthodox Jews. Table 6 shows that five stations are located in the center of Israel, three in the south, and four in the north. All the regional stations are operated by private franchises and are financed by advertising revenues.
Table 7 presents information about ownership, funding, financing, and regulation patterns for the three types of radio networks. It is similar to the pattern of television ownership. The Voice of Israel is funded by the television and radio fee and by advertising. It is supervised by the IBA. IDF Radio is owned and funded by the Ministry of Defense and sponsors. The non-military programs of the station are also regulated and supervised by the IBA. The commercial regional and designated stations are funded by advertising and are regulated by SATR. The cable and satellite services are regulated by another body, the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting.
Table 7: Radio Ownership, Funding, and Regulation
Fee + Advertising
IDF Budget + Sponsors
IBA + Chief Education Officer
Kol Israel (1936****)7 Channels
Galei Zahal (1950) Galgalatz (1993)
Regional Stations (1995)
*Israel Defense Forces
**Israel Broadcasting Authority***Second Authority for Television and Radio****Year Founded
Table 8 reveals that in recent years Galei Zahal has become the most popular radio station in Israel, while Kol Israel is close behind. The commercial stations collectively occupy third place, maintaining a steady rating of about 34 percent.
Table 8: Radio Listening, 2004-2007
Source: TGI Survey, Jewish adults above age 18, listening on weekdays (Sunday-Thursday); average listening at least once a day.
NEW MEDIA AND ADVERTISING
Israel is one of the world leaders in development of internet technologies and applications, and Israeli companies operating in the field have achieved enormous successes. The international hi-tech reputation is also recognized on the home market and influences local interest and use. Since 2003, internet penetration in Israel has been growing rapidly. Five major and about 70 smaller internet service providers serve more than 3.9 million users over age 13, including 55 percent of households and 75 percent of businesses. Cellular phone companies introduced wireless internet in 2001. The Israeli national phone company, Bezeq, began ADSL services in 2000, and the cable companies started to provide broadband cable modem access in 2002. Figure 3 shows considerable steady increase in overall Israeli households’ connection to the internet. It has risen from about five percent in 1997 to 55 percent in 2005. Major increases occurred in 1999 and since 2003.
Figure 3: Households’ Connection to the Internet, 1997-2006
Percentage of total households.
Source: Israel’s National Statistics Bureau, 1997–2006.
A survey by Dun and Bradstreet revealed that in 2006 the broadband penetration rate for Jewish households was 69 percent, and that figure placed Israel in the eighth in the world. Israel’s connection rate is lower than that of South Korea, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Denmark but is higher than the rate in the UK (twentieth place) and the United States (twenty-fifth place). Two years earlier the comparable figure was only 50 percent. The same survey also found that on average Israeli surfers spend 37.4 hours per month online. Worldwide, only Canadian surfers spend more time on the internet than Israelis (39.6 hours per month). Demographic data on surfing in Israel revealed interesting results. Ninety-nine percent of young Israelis between ages 13 and 17 surf. In the 18-20 age category the penetration rate is 79 percent, and among people over 50 the rate is 45 percent. Jewish males (69 percent) surf more than women (63 percent), and secular Jews (80 percent) surf more than both traditional Jews (62 percent) and orthodox Jews (50 percent).
Table 9 reveals that Israeli surfers use the internet primarily to seek information (35 percent) and to send and receive email (35 percent). When adding “first activity” and “second activity,” searching for information becomes the dominant activity (66 percent). Only 16 percent look first for news, probably because television and radio extensively cover all events, including breaking events, in real time. Still, 28 percent defined searching for news as their first or second activity on the internet. A total of 14 percent and 11 percent respectively use the internet primarily for shopping and chatting. Very few surfers use the internet primarily for other functions. Surprisingly perhaps, reading blogs in Israel is not yet a major activity for the local surfers.
Table 9: Most Popular Activities on the Internet
Searching for Information
Consumer Sites (Shopping, Banking, etc.)
Chats / Discussion Groups/ Instant Messages
Software and Games
Downloading Music / Media Files
Listening to Radio, Watching TV Shows
Other / No Opinion
Source: Netvision Institute for Internet Studies, Tel Aviv University, October 2006, Adults above 18.
Table 10 shows that by far, television is the main source of news for Israelis, while the internet occupies the second place. Thirty-five percent said that television is their primary source of news, 26 percent use primarily the internet, 23 percent use newspapers, and only 14 percent said that radio is their primary source of news. When responses to using the internet as “an additional source” are added to responses to using this medium as a “primary source,” the gap between television and the other media is widened. A total of 73 percent said they use television as a primary or secondary source of news, while 51 percent named the internet as their primary or secondary source.
Table 10: Primary News Sources
Source: Netvision Institute for Internet Studies, Tel Aviv University, October 2006, Adults above 18.
All the major daily newspapers produce online editions. Several have established separate editorial, marketing, and advertising departments for the online editions. The online editions of Ha’aretz, both in Hebrew and English (haaretz.com), and Globes are almost identical to the printed editions, but Yediot’sYnet (http://www.ynet.co.il) and Ma’ariv‘s NRG (http://www.nrg.co.il) are different and include many reports, interviews, and columns written especially for them. Ynet also publishes an English version (http://www.ynetnews.com). The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com) also publishes an online edition. Most radio stations broadcast live on the internet, while the television networks broadcast only selected programs. The IBA has one site in Hebrew and English for both radio and television programs (http://www.iba.org.il/). The news company of Channel 2 has a website (http://www.reshet.tv/newsite) while Channel 10 collaborates with Nana, a news portal (http://10tv.nana10.co.il/).
Several independent portals include Walla (http://www.walla.co.il); Tapuz (http://www.tapuz.co.il); and Arutz Sheva (http://www.israelnn.com), which broadcasts in Hebrew, English, and Russian. TheMarker (http://www.themarker.com) is a major online source for economic and financial news, and One (http://www.one.co.il) is a major sports portal. A recent survey of exposure to sites shows a phenomenal rate for Google, 90.8 percent. The local Walla and Ynet sites were second and third with 73.5 percent and 57.4 percent exposure respectively. Nana-10 got 37.7 percent. YouTube’s exposure was 33.9 percent, and those of MSN and Facebook were 29.8 percent and 21.4 percent respectively.
Most of the traditional and new media in Israel depends on advertising revenues. Economic prosperity increases advertising budgets while recession reduces them. The more advertising outlets a society develops, the stiffer the competition and the scarcer the allocations of funds for each medium. The overall advertising expenditures in Israel have not dramatically changed in the last ten years. Table 11 reveals that the total expenditures in 2005 were smaller than the sum spent in 1995. In 2007, the total increased by 8.3 percent and reached $898 million.
Table 11: Advertising Expenditures by Medium, 1990-2006
Weeklies & Monthlies
Total (US$ Millions)
Sources: For 1990, 1995: Dan Caspi and Yehiel Limor, The In/Outsiders: The Media in Israel (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1999); for 2002- 2006: Israel Advertisers’ Association.
Changes in the distribution of expenditures among the different media are very interesting. Table 11 and Figure 4 show that the print media still receives the largest portion of revenues, but since 1990 the total sum has decreased by almost 50 percent. Television went in the other direction, from a meager 4.2 percent in 1990 to 36 percent in 2007. Expenditures for television advertising went up because of the introduction of commercial channels. Advertising on the internet has been rapidly growing from only 1.2 percent in 2002 to 10 percent in 2007. Despite the proliferation of commercial regional radio stations, the volume of radio advertising remains similar throughout the period. Figure 4 demonstrates the distribution of expenditures for advertising in 2007. The print media leads with 42 percent and is followed by television (36 percent), the internet (10 percent), billboards (6 percent), radio (5 percent), and cinema (1 percent). The share of the print media in advertising will continue to decline while that of the internet will grow exponentially at the expense of the other media.
Figure 4: Advertising Expenditures by Medium, 2007
Total expenditures: $898 Million.
Source: Israel Advertisers’ Association and Ifat Advertising Research, 2008.
Given its small population and territory, the absorption of two million immigrants, and the constant burden of national security, Israel has been able to support, develop, and maintain a flourishing, diversified, and free media. Israelis are probably the largest consumers of news in the world. Israeli society is very dynamic and closely monitors significant frequent events and developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The society is also very active and talkative and this is both reflected and nourished by the mass media. The print media has always been independent and respected and in general has been able to adjust to social, economic, and technological challenges and innovations.
The major revolutions and transformations have occurred in the electronic and new media. Until the beginning of the 1990s, Israel had only one public television channel and two public radio stations, which operated under some government control. Today, the media world is much more independent, rich, and vibrant. New commercial television and radio channels and cable and DBS services vigorously compete for audiences and revenues. Occasionally, the competition leads to trash programs in attempts to capture the lower common denominator, but this is a worldwide television problem, not just an Israeli one. For almost 20 years, the public channel enjoyed a monopoly. Channel 2 dominated the field for the next decade. Today, Channel 10 is challenging Channel 2, and the competition between the two commercial channels is likely to be fiercer. New media has been rapidly developing, and Israel is ranked at the top of advanced societies with very high levels of internet penetration and utilization.
Like media in the Western and developed world, the mainstream media in Israel does not sufficiently cover the periphery and the concerns of ethnic, national, and religious minorities, but the availability of several channels and new media have reduced this problem. Military censorship still exists. Since Israel is engaged in a protracted brutal and violent confrontation with several of its neighbors, this measure of emergency periods may be justified. Moreover, all the enemies of the state are autocratic and severely restrict freedom of the press. By denying access to reporters or limiting them to certain areas or topics, they exercise censorship at the source. In the new media world, however, censorship has become much less effective and is easily circumvented. Today, Israeli newspapers can publish any information published abroad, even if it was not cleared by the censorship body. Local reporters can leak information to colleagues abroad and after publication in a foreign outlet, they publish the same information in their own medium. In the future, Israel is likely to abolish this instrument of information control.
In many ways the media in Israel operates like the media in the Western and developed world. It fully exploits the advantages of the information age, but at the same time it suffers from weaknesses and pressure created by fierce competition and scarce resources. One major challenge is public broadcasting. After many years of monopoly, the IBA and Channel 1 have failed to properly adjust to the new diversified media world. Channel 1 has been suffering from very low ratings, financial crises, an inflated work force, failures to recruit young talents, and ineffective management. Politicians and experts alike have recommended closing the IBA, but every society needs public communication, especially Israel. There are too many separate regulation bodies for the commercial channels, the cable and DBS services, and the new media. There is still too much bureaucracy and politics involved in these bodies, and a major reform is required.
At present, the dynamic Israeli economy is able to support the independent newspapers, the commercial television and radio networks, and new media channels. The media needs to take into consideration recessions and other potential damaging events and processes such as wars. The trends show continuing decline in revenues for the print media and substantial increases for the new media. Newspapers are coping with this challenge by starting to develop online editions, but this may not be sufficient if they continue to cut back on talented editors and reporters. In sum, the Israeli media is one of the most advanced and freest in the world and has a very good chance to further develop and serve well Israeli society.
*Eytan Gilboa is Professor and Chair of Communications and Director of the Center for International Communication at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He is also a Senior Research Associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a Visiting Professor of Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. He has written numerous works on political and international communications. In 2001, he won the Best Article Award of the International Communication Association. He thanks Mr. Ori Bagno and Ms. Shani Horowitz for their research assistance.
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 Haim Koren, “The Arab Citizens of the State of Israel: The Arab Media Perspective,” Israel Affairs, Vol. 9, Nos. 1 & 2 (Autumn/Winter 2003), pp. 212-26.
 Dan Caspi, Hanna Adoni, and Akiba A. Cohen, “The Red, the White and the Blue: The Russian Media in Israel,” Gazette, Vol. 64, No. 6, (2002), pp. 537-56.
Israel Hayom publishes daily approximately 350,000 copies and at present distributes them free of charge at major population centers.
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 Tamar Liebes, “Performing a Dream and its Dissolution: A Social History of Broadcasting in Israel,” in J. Curran and M.J. Park (eds.), De-Westernizing Media Studies (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 305-24.
 Gideon Doron, “The Politics of Mass Communication in Israel,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 555 (January 1998), pp. 163-79; Dan Caspi, “On Media and Politics: Between Enlightened Authority and Social Responsibility,” Israel Affairs, Vol. 11, No. 1 (January 2005), pp. 23-38.
 Eli Avraham, Behind Media Marginality: Coverage of Social Groups and Places in the Israeli Press (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003); Yaron Katz, “The ‘Other Media:’ Alternative Communications in Israel,” International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3 (2007), pp. 383-400.
 Yehiel Limor and Hillel Nossek, “The Military and the Media in the Twenty First Century: Towards a New Model of Relations,” Israel Affairs, Vol. 12, No. 3 (July 2006), pp. 484-510.
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