Ensuring Arabic Language Accessibility on Primetime News
On 18.3.2020 we contacted the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC) requesting that they ensure live Arabic-language accessibility during the primetime news – whether through subtitling the program or simultaneously broadcasting the news in Arabic, for all segments and throughout its duration. We further requested that all announcements from the Prime Minister’s Office be made accessible in Arabic, as well as all announcements by Ministry of Health officials in Arabic, Amharic, and Russian, as is required by Public Broadcasting Law regulations.
ACRI Attorneys Tal Hassin and Abir Joubran Dakwar wrote that it is unacceptable for Netanyahu and Ministry of Health officials to address the nation directly while the IPBC’s Arabic channel plays Egyptian sitcoms; and that as Hebrew-speakers are informed in real-time of new decrees with critical life-or-death consequences, the Arabic-language channel’s routine programming remains unchanged. The IPBC’s disgraceful disregard for the Arab public, a total of 1.9 million men, women, and children, in the midst of this chaotic emergency, is a condemning demonstration of their failure to fulfil their role.
The appeal reached an attentive audience. Within 24 hours, there was a substantial expansion of Arabic translation of the IPBC’s nightly news broadcast. Correspondents in the field and commentators in the studio, the Prime Minister and Health Minister’s remarks were all broadcast with live translation and subtitles. Reports indicated that as a result, the ratings soared. ACRI continues to track these developments.
The appeal was written with help from legal intern Liba Ne’eman