JERUSALEM, Israel – GOD TV’s Hebrew-speaking channel Shelanu TV is threatening to take legal action against the chairman of Israel’s media oversight council, the latest development in the Messianic channel’s battle with the Israeli government over its desire to broadcast its faith-based content to the Israeli public.
CBN News reported this week that the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting suspended HOT Cable’s license to broadcast Shelanu TV over allegations that it is preaching the gospel to Israelis.
While evangelism is legal in Israel, Council chairman Asher Biton accused HOT Cable of misrepresenting Shelanu TV’s content and intentions on the licensing application.
"The channel is aimed at Jews with Christian content, in contrast to the original broadcast request, which stated it was designated for Christians," Biton said in a statement.
HOT Cable originally said it would reapply for a new license, but Shelanu announced on Tuesday that the Israeli cable service is no longer pursuing a new license.
“Last night we learned that HOT Cable company has chosen not to reapply for a license for Shelanu TV, which effectively ends Shelanu TV’s era on the HOT cable network,” Ron Cantor, the Israel Regional Director for GOD TV, said in a statement.
Cantor emphasized that HOT Cable and Shelanu TV both expected to receive a new license upon reapplying but he accused the Israeli government officials of putting “tremendous pressure on HOT to disassociate itself from Shelanu TV.”
“This way the Israeli government would not be accused of denying anyone’s freedoms and Shelanu TV would be gone from the airways,” said Cantor.
Shelanu TV also accused Chairman Biton of “knowingly deceiving the public” by asserting that Shelanu TV misrepresented itself by saying the channel was aimed at Christians when Jews were really its target audience. Biton claimed this mischaracterization of the channel is the reason it was suspended.
Cantor denies Biton’s allegations.
“Our license says very clearly that our target audience is the audience of Israeli viewers,” Cantor told CBN News. “We have not broken our agreement. HOT has not broken their agreement…We have not done anything wrong.”
CBN News has obtained a copy of the broadcasting license and can confirm that it is specified that the channel was intended for the general Israeli audience.
Cantor said the channel is considering taking legal action against Biton.
“We do not wish to harm Mr. Biton in anyway, knowing that he himself has been the target of anti-Messianic groups like Yad Lachim, putting incredible pressure on him to revoke our license, but he has told all Israel and many in the international community that we used deceptive tactics to get the license, when in fact we were upfront with HOT executives from day one,” said Cantor.
“We ask Mr. Biton to issue an apology and clarification that there was no stipulation that our content was only supposed to be for Christians. If he corrects the matter, we will take no legal action.”
In the meantime, Shelanu TV says it will take its content to the internet and holds no ill will against HOT Cable for deciding to end its agreement with them.