The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted Sunday on the question of whether free newspapers should be permitted in a free society — or whether citizens should have to pay for them.
They voted to endorse the so-called Yisrael Hayom bill — named after the pro-Netanyahu free newspaper which is at the center of the debate. The paper is owned by Netanyahu’s major supporter, billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Every coalition party except Likud supported the bill, which purports to bolster the print newspaper industry by banning newspapers distributed free of charge.
The legislation defines a free daily newspaper as one that is given out without payment six days a week and applies only to the four newspapers with the highest circulation in Israel, whatever they may be at any given time.
The lowest-priced newspaper of the four cannot cost less than 70 percent of the second-lowest-priced paper, according to the bill.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni candidly admitted, however, that the legislation does target one newspaper in particular.
“My stance is clear. Yisrael Hayom is not a newspaper, it is election propaganda …’ she told reporters.
The bill now goes to the Knesset plenum.