The tender round for Israel's proposed third free-to-air television channel will start no later than July according to Israeli communications minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer.

Ben Eliezer, who is pushing legislation through the Israeli parliament in order to meet the deadline, has hinted that he'd prefer to award the franchise to a single entity. However he may be forced to split the franchise to appease the three operators of existing commerical channel, the Second Channel, each of which would like to operate a franchise of its own.

The minister has also stated that he wants new players to enter the television market, in order to increase competition, and has denied rumours that existing broadcasters will be given a shot at the new franchise. "I would like to see advertising rates go down and programme quality go up," Ben Eliezer said.

In April, Ben Eliezer is also due to launch a tender round for Israel's first commercial cable channels. These are set to include a news channel, an Israeli pop music channel, a religious channel, a Russian-language channel and an Arabic-language channel.