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Israel To Make Stations Play Locals

December 22, 1998

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Half of all music played on Israeli radio stations must be native music, according to a law passed Tuesday that is intended to promote Hebrew songs and preserve the nation’s culture.

The law, passed by parliament with bipartisan support, applies to state-run radio, army radio and privately run regional stations _ although many radio stations already broadcast predominantly domestic content.

Yona Yahav, the Labor party legislator who sponsored the new law, said it was necessary to protect local artists.

``A young culture must build protective barriers, just as protective barriers are built around products,″ he said. He noted the law does not include penalties.

``Program producers will not be hauled off to jail,″ he said, laughing.

The state-run classical music station will be exempted, as will Israel’s Arabic language service and a station that broadcasts predominantly foreign language programs for recent immigrants. Other stations will be assessed on a monthly basis.

Some in the music business had questioned the need for the law, saying that Israel’s thriving recording industry benefited from exposure to outside influences.

Backers of the law say there’s plenty of foreign music already available _ on MTV, on radio stations from neighboring Arab lands and on pirate stations.

Benny Dudkevitch, a producer with Israel radio, said the new law ``will encourage more Israeli performers to record their music.″

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