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Volume 22, February 2006

Israel Broadcasting Authority Cancels Contract with Private Company which Collects Broadcasting Fees from Arab Citizens Only

On 12 January 2006, the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) informed Adalah that it does not intend to renew its contract with the “Milgam” company, and that the IBA will undertake the collection of broadcasting fees from citizens without the help of any private company.

The IBA’s response came after Adalah had engaged in extensive correspondence with IBA over the past several months. In its correspondence, Adalah demanded that the IBA discontinue its contract with Milgam as the company was collecting broadcasting fees exclusively from Arab citizens of Israel and that the IBA did not contract a company to perform the same activity in Jewish towns.

On 24 May 2005, Adalah Attorney Abeer Baker first approached the IBA after receiving numerous complaints indicating that representatives from the company had sent warnings to Arab citizens who owed money to the company, caused damage to houses and confiscated private household property through aggressive means. Adalah’s investigations also showed that Milgam is the only company with which the IBA holds a contract, through which it authorized the company to collect broadcasting fees exclusively from Arab citizens.

In its initial letter, Adalah argued that the Milgam, as a private company, does not have the authority to collect broadcasting fees from citizens, a task that can only be undertaken by a government authority and cannot be delegated to a private body. Therefore, the authorization of Milgam, a private company not bound by the principles of accountability, good faith, transparency and integrity as is a governmental authority, to carry out the assignments of the IBA is not based on legal grounds.

Adalah further argued in the letter that the collection of fees by a private company exclusively among Arab citizens of Israel is a policy of selective implementation of the law and illegal given that it discriminates against Arab citizens on the basis of national belonging.

 The Letter (H)