Israeli news chief quits over apology to mogul

AP News
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Posted: Sep 08, 2011 12:21 PM
Israeli news chief quits over apology to mogul

An Israeli TV news chief has resigned because his channel agreed to apologize for a report critical of a U.S. casino mogul who is a close associate of Israel's prime minister, the station said Thursday.

The Haaretz newspaper said Sheldon Adelson had threatened to sue Channel 10 if it didn't apologize for its profile of his conduct and business dealings. The case highlighted fears that wealthy people with good connections could compromise journalistic integrity, among other ways by threatening expensive lawsuits.

A statement from Channel 10 confirmed Reudor Benziman's resignation and said he had sent a statement to colleagues explaining that he was resigning because he "cannot live" with the apology.

"I see no option besides tendering my resignation," Benziman's statement said.

Benziman had been the station's news chief for 3 1/2 years.

Haaretz cited unidentified people at Channel 10 as accusing shareholders of interfering in the news division's editorial content.

The TV station is owned by Israeli business magnate Yossi Maiman, Arnon Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood film producer; and Ron Lauder, another U.S. businessman with close ties to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Adelson owns a free newspaper distributed in Israel, Israel Hayom, that is sympathetic to the Netanyahu government.