Patrick Drahi, a French-Israeli businessman, is planning to establish an Israeli version of the Arab world's Al Jazeera news channel – that is, a broadcast station that will espouse the Israeli perspective on Middle Eastern and global affairs.
Drahi, who entered the Israeli communications market three years by purchasing a controlling stake in the HOT cable TV company, will operate the new station from Israel and initially broadcast in French to France. Later, he seeks to produce English-language news designed for the U.S.-Canadian market.
Haim Slutzky Communication Channels, which produces showed for HOT, will reportedly own the new station while Drahi will take a share of the profits.
Slutzky confirmed the report and added that the new station “would contribute to Zionism.”
The Haaretz newspaper of Israel reported that the government will play no role in the new station, which apparently has no name yet. No start date for the venture has been revealed either.
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Patrick Drahi has… a sincere and real Zionist motivation to help improve Israel's image by presenting the vibrant, modern, young lifestyle of the Israelis who live here,” a source told Haaretz.
“In addition to the content broadcast from Israel, the channel will also document the life of Jewish communities abroad.
Another source told the paper that Drahi wants to offer “a balanced presentation of life in Israel throughout the world [that] will help strengthen the country's image.
Drahi also owns a cable company called Numericable SA, which operates in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Last month, Israeli media reported that the four biggest investors in the country’s communications industry – including Drahi – suffered huge financial losses over just two days on the stock market due to the entry of a handful of new cell phone companies into the market, offering prices that were below expectations.
Drahi was identified as the single biggest loser over that period, having incurred a paper loss of some 243 million new shekels ($62 million) through his stock ownership of HOT cable company.
Drahi faces a monumental task is trying to match Al Jazeera, which reportedly boasts 40 to 45-million viewers across the Arab world.