Press Release – May 13, 2020
Severe violation of freedom of expression: For the first time in Israel, the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting threatens to close “Shelanu” channel, sponsored by God TV
The managers of “God TV’s” underwritten channel “Shelanu” that broadcasts in Hebrew on channel 182 on “HOT” cable were surprised by the warning that was sent today by Asher Biton, the Chairman of Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council to “HOT” cable, which stated that he is considering terminating the broadcasting of the channel that began airing right after Israeli independence day, two weeks ago. In the warning, “HOT” cable is requested to represent its position by the 19th of May.
GOD TV is a pro-Israel, evangelical Christian media company, which broadcasts its content to approximately 300 million homes across the globe, with a potential viewing audience of over one billion people. Additionally, its content is delivered online and it has a combined following of some 5.8 million people on social media. GOD TV also distributes a PRO-ISRAEL daily email “The Israel Insider’”.
“We were approached last year by HOT cable inquiring about GOD TV resuming its Israel broadcast. We immediately asked if we could broadcast content in Hebrew to the general public and they answered in the affirmative. Thus began an honest partnership with HOT.
“HOT cable applied to the council based on our request. An application that was never presented or seen by anyone at GOD TV. HOT informed us that our application was accepted. We hope that any issue that needs to be straightened out between HOT and the Broadcasting Channel will be solved quickly, in order to preserve our freedom of expression and freedom of press,” said Ron Cantor, the Israel Regional Director for GOD TV.
The opposition to the channel apparently arose, not because of any content on Shelanu, but because of a poorly worded fundraising video. GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson has expressed his regret for this video.
“For the past 25 years, GOD TV has been a friend and avid supporter of Israel. Israel is core and central to who GOD TV is and what GOD TV does. It is very disheartening to hear and read these misunderstandings and to be thought of as anything other than Israel’s champion. In my excitement and zeal to present this great news of approval, there were things said that could have and should have been said differently. For this I apologize once again. And be assured, I do understand why it was offensive. When our Messianic Jewish partners alerted us that video was insensitive, we immediately took it down that day.
“We would never intentionally do anything to damage the excellent relationship between the hundreds of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, Israel and the Jewish people. Our viewers love Israel, support Israel and have deep admiration for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Jewish people. GOD TV and Shelanu TV have no intention of trying to convert Jews to a different religion and abhor using any form of coercion. We understand the anti-proselytizing laws in Israel and honor them. We also have no desire to escalate tensions with the communications council. We look forward to working with the council to find an amiable resolution,” said Ward Simpson, CEO of GOD TV.
“We believe there is a serious threat to freedom of expression, in our pluralistic democratic society. The channel ‘Shelanu’ is no different than many channels today broadcasting content to the Ethiopian, Russian and Arab communities in Israel. It is absurd that anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist content is broadcast freely every day on cable television in Israel, and a pro-Israel, Zionist channel like ours is under investigation,” said Avi Mizachi, a Shelanu board member. “We should be free to broadcast content of our community as well.”
“As Israelis, we request that the law will be applied to us exactly as it is applied to anyone who wants to share their faith view, from Orthodox Jews to Muslims. It will be a sad day if the only democracy in the Middle East prevents the freedom of speech of Messianic Jews in Israel. We pay taxes, our sons and daughters are recruited to serve in the Israeli military, but when it comes to the freedom of speech, some want to silence us. Shelanu TV provides an outlet of expression for thousands of Israeli Messianic Jews and Christian Arabs to express their faith in Yeshua, as 70% of our content is created by Israelis. It was expected that some may disagree with our faith, but this is an issue of freedom of expression. We have an Israeli oversight team that has implemented stringent measures to ensure that Shelanu TV adheres to regulations and that it remains in good standing with the authorities,” says Cantor.