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Israel’s oldest newspaper Haaretz this week published its inaugural list of “Israeli Culture’s 100 Most Influential Figures” — and weighing in at number one is Avi Nir, CEO of Keshet Media Group.
The paper had this to say about the senior executive, who has lead Keshet to its current position of global influence in the TV industry, greenlighting such hits as Big Brother, Master Chef, and Hatufim, the original version of Homeland: “Nir is regarded as the person who is able to predict what the viewing audience wants, satisfy their tastes precisely and, time after time, create shows that will keep them glued to the screen.”
Elsewhere Haaretz noted the “quasi-mythical status” Nir has achieved in the Israeli TV industry.
The paper also acknowledged the controversial position Nir, and Keshet, have often occupied in the Israeli public life, with many critics openly disdainful of the “loudness and coarseness” of shows like Big Brother, Master Chef, and A Star is Born (the Israeli version of American Idol), accusing the company of “infantilizing” and “drugging” the local TV audience.
“But none of that changes the bottom line,” the article said. “When it comes to influencing local culture, Nir ranks above all others.”
The paper went on to chronicle how Keshet’s greatest cultural accomplishment came roughly six years ago, when it moved to develop harder-hitting dramas, which previously had been viewed within the Israeli industry as an area that had to be addressed simply to fulfill regulatory obligations. With risky dramas such as Arab Labor, which has mostly Arabic dialog, and Yellow Peppers, about an autistic child and his family, the network raised the bar for quality local television – and when Homeland became a critical and commercial hit in North America, Keshet’s cultural prestige had gone global.
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