Czech Television, the Czech public service broadcaster, is launching a news channel on Monday. The channel, called CT24, will be available on satellite and cable TV 18 hours a day in its trial operation. Round the clock broadcasting is expected to start in the autumn. The channel will also broadcast online at www.ct24.cz. News will be broadcast every hour, other programmes will focus for example on business, sport and science and technology.
DNA tests have confirmed the identity of another Czech national who was killed by the tsunami wave in Thailand at the end of last year. The woman is the sixth confirmed Czech victim of the disaster; five people were killed in Thailand, one in Sri Lanka. Two Czechs still remain unaccounted for. They went missing in the Thai island of Phi Phi are also believed to have died.
The leadership of the opposition Communist Party has decided to recommend to the party's deputies not to support the government of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek of the Social Democrats in the upcoming vote of confidence. Mr Paroubek is expected to ask the lower house for confidence in his cabinet in two weeks time. A number of Social Democrat MPs have not yet confirmed whether they will give confidence to the current governing coalition which relies on a one-vote majority in the lower house.
The Czech ice hockey team have left for Vienna, where they are hoping to win the sport's World Championships for the first time in four years. The Czechs were beaten 2:1 by Canada in their last warm up game in Prague on Thursday evening. Their first match at the World Championships is against Switzerland on Sunday.
The Czech Republic is to provide 4.5 million Czech crowns (almost 200,000 US dollars) towards the renewal of a national park in Chile, which was badly damaged in a forest fire started accidentally by a Czech tourist. Over 11,000 hectares of the Torres del Paine park were destroyed in February's fire. The Chilean authorities say it will take more than 7 million US dollars and over a decade to repair the damage.
Britain's Prince Edward is to visit in July a Czech golf club which is the only club outside the United Kingdom allowed to call itself "royal". The club, in the spa town of Marianske Lazne, was opened by his great-great-great-grandfather King Edward VII in 1905. The king became the club's first listed member and visited 10 times over the following four years.
Meanwhile, the president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, has defended two leading MEPs who recently criticised the Czech president for his opposition to the European Constitution. Mr Klaus called for an apology after Alejo Vidal-Quadras and Jo Leinen said he was misleading Czech voters on the issue, and could lead the Czech Republic into isolation. On Friday the Czech president refused to react to Mr Borrell's statement, saying it was an insufficient response to a letter of complaint he had sent to the president of the European Parliament.
Students of Prague's Charles University are planning to protest in May against increases in the cost of halls of residence, Pravo reported on Friday. The current monthly rent of around 1,000 Czech crowns (just over 40 US dollars) is set to at least double, due to a change in the grants system. The students are planning to demonstrate at both the Office of the Government and the Education Ministry, and will call for the resignation of Minister Petra Buzkova, said the daily.
The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for the removal of a pig farm from the site of a Nazi concentration camp near the south Bohemian village of Lety. Over 1,200 Czech Romanies were interned there in 1942 before being sent to Auschwitz. Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Friday he would be in favour of removing the pig farm, while President Vaclav Klaus said it was a matter for the Czech Republic, not the EU. Mr Klaus said most MEPs did not have enough information about the issue.
The Czech National Bank on Thursday unexpectedly cut interest rates to their lowest level ever, with the key repo rate down by a quarter percentage point to 1.75 percent, a spokeswoman for the bank has said. Analysts say the cuts will weaken the crown for a longer period, bringing down the costs of credits and mortgages.
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