Religion Magazine

News Lines Being Shut Down

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Kikar is reporting that the Ministry of Communications has announced that it is planning to shut down all the "news lines". These are phone lines that people can call to and hear all the latest news, breaking news, updates and whatnot. These are very popular in the Haredi community among people who do not have internet access and don't listen much, if at all, to the radio. You call a number and then hear the news items read out over the phone. There are many different news lines.
According to the Ministry of Communications, these lines are taken advantage of and people stay on the lines for a long time and the phone companies have complained about losing a lot of money because of them.
On the other hand, for many people this is the one way, or the easiest way and most kosher way, for them to get the news. Cutting them off means they won't be updated. Community leaders are worried that cutting off such a service will force a lot of people to get access to the Internet in order to stay informed, and this is something they really don't want to do, but might be "forced" into it.
While I personally think people need to get with the times and not complain that an offered service is anti-haredi (or anti-whatever) just because it is offered only using the latest technologies and not compatible with non-kosher phones or lifestyles that choose to not make it available, in this case I see no reason for these news lines to be canceled. If the phone companies are really complaining about losing money on these lines, they should charge more. Why shut them down? Just like I pay for Internet access, if someone else wants to get his news read to him over the phone let him pay for that whatever the cost is. The phone company does not need to lose money to provide the service, but I think it is reasonable to charge a fair price for such a service.
I also think that the community leaders who run these lines are thinking very poorly of their community. If someone is ideologically opposed to Internet use, will he really start using it just because these phone lines shut down? I think it is far more likely that some alternate service will be created in some way, but it seems pretty weak to me to assume everyone will suddenly cave and get Internet just because the news line is shut down.
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