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Viewers complain of channel blackout

By Uri Ayalon and Ori Nir

The Israeli Consumer Council approached the chair of the Cable and Satellite TV Council, Dorit Inbar, yesterday to protest on behalf of angry viewers, who are unable to watch the World Cup.

Many Cable TV subscribers complained yesterday that the cable broadcasters had switched off certain channels airing the World Cup in order to allow the Sport 5+ channel to maintain its exclusive rights to the month-long tournament.

The consumer council claimed the action was a "exploitation of the circumstances and a gross transgression of the contract with subscribers in order to force them to pay more money over and above the standard subscription fee."

The foreign channels switched off during the games are Jordan's JTV 2, one of the Turkish TRT channels and one of the Russian channels.

Sports Minister Matan Vilnai also discussed the matter with Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin and said, "The cable companies have abused their position as a platform for foreign channels in order to further their own stake in Sport 5+"

Vilnai also spoke with Inbar, who said she had not given the cable and satellite companies permission to switch off the channels and she warned them they would have to bear the consequences of their actions. The council is set to discuss the matter in a few days' time.

Sport 5+ said in reaction that over 50,000 subscribers had joined the 200,000 others since it was announced that the channel had bought the right to the World Cup.

Many Arab subscribers of cable company Tevel have appealed to human rights group Adalah and to Arab MKs complaining of the blacking out of the Arab channels during the games.

Adalah claimed Arab subscribers suffer more than most because Sport 5+ broadcasts only in Hebrew.

Adalah also said that people with their own satellite dishes who receive broadcasts independently also suffer interference during the broadcasts
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