Elections Catapult Israeli Internet Status

Last week’s elections catapulted Israeli Internet services into higher
visibility, with all the main Israeli content providers scrambled to
establish special election sites.

The Israeli Second Television Channel established a site that broadcast the
election results in real time during a special three-hour broadcast, using
Real
Video technology, to surfers all over the world.


Internet provider NetVision furnished specialized servers enabling this to
be the most extensive broadcasting project ever accomplished in Israel.

IOL, one of the most popular Israeli portals, held chat sessions with Prime
Ministerial candidates Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Mordechai.

Aviad Segal, IOL’s election site editor, observed that two weeks prior to
the elections, only 2,000 surfers visited the site daily, mostly from
outside Israel. Just before the elections, this site became one of IOL’s
most popular channels. Daily Hebrew-language paper Ha’aretz‘s site,
which is also on the IOL portal, saw an increase of tens of percentage
points with the number of hits from abroad.

Yediot Acharonot, the most popular Hebrew-language daily paper in
Israel, does not usually have an Internet site, but opened a special one
just a few weeks before the elections. Ze’ev Hasper, manager of Internet
activities for Yediot A’charonot, stated that the special site received
more foreign visitors than Israelis, but would not disclose any exact figures.

Internet site builders also profited from the elections, with more than 30
parties entering the elections and most opting for Web sites to relay their
platform. Some of the sites, such as the Likud and Shas sites, included
streaming video. The Likud site included a direct link to a database that
gave viewers a glimpse of their local polling station.

The official Israeli election site, which was part of the Knesset (The
Israeli Parlament) site, presented the official results of the elections as
soon as they were published.

These sites are now being taken off the network and most will not be
updated until the next election in four years time. However the development
and presence of Hebrew-language channels, as experienced during the
election period, can no longer be ignored.

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