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Jewish shareholders play hardball over CNN's Intifada coverage

by emad omar Sunday, Aug. 26, 2001 at 2:33 AM
omare@globalone.com.jo>

Jewish shareholders play hardball over CNN's Intifada coverage

About 10 months ago, a delegation from CNN headquarters in Atlanta,

headed

by chief news director and president of the news department Eason

Jordan,

came to Israel. The reason for the urgent visit, whose content was kept

top

secret, was the initiative of Jewish businessmen, who are identified

mainly

with right-wing circles, who started to sell their stocks in the parent

company, Time-Warner, to protest CNN's policy regarding Intifada

coverage.

This step, which was reflected in the company's share prices, aroused

concern at Time-Warner, which then was conducting negotiations for a

merger

with the U.S. Internet company AOL [America On-Line].

The directors of CNN and Time-Warner were afraid that the sale of the

stocks

would cause a sharp decline in the company's worth. Israel was aware of

the

step, but the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office did not

intervene. The network directors were angry at the "financial

blackmail"

that was supposed to influence their neutral stance. Nevertheless, they

promised to investigate Israel's complaints, and to find a solution, if

possible.

In Israel there is a feeling that since the meeting, the network has

been

trying to take the Israeli position into account. In any case,

government

sources emphasize, they place more importance on the broadcasts of BBC

World, which has higher viewing rates in regions of importance to

Israel,

such as Western Europe.

Jewish media mogul Mortimer Zuckerman is also doubtful about the

influence

of the network. He says that many people watch CNN and think that it

represents how the media cover Israel. But he adds that this is not the

case. Zuckerman says that many of the Israeli politicians with whom he

spoke

were amazed to discover how unimportant CNN is.

Eason Jordan refused to respond to Ha'aretz's request for his reaction.

A

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that the CNN delegation had met with

then

prime minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, and that

the

two sides had discussed their work relationship.

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