There was big news this week for the mobile phone-mad Czech Republic: both Cesky Telecom and T-Mobile will offer the reception of some of the country's television stations on handsets from next year. Telecom is to offer the music channel Ocko, while T-Mobile will work with Prima and Czech Television's 24 hour news service. In the beginning the services will be free, but Telecom said it would later charge 300 Czech crowns (around 12 US dollars). As for the actual phones that will be able to receive TV - they aren't on the market here yet.
Figures released by the OECD show that, of all its members, the Czech Republic relies the most on social insurance to fill the state coffers. A full 44 percent of government income comes from social insurance. Compare that to Denmark, for instance, which generated only 2.5 percent of its budget from that source in 2003, the year most recently surveyed. Some countries, like Australia and New Zealand, do not impose any social insurance at all.
Internet gambling is of course big business, but it can operate on the edge of the law in some countries. Here in the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Finance has just filed criminal complaints against four online gaming sites, including big player Betandwin.com of Austria. The company, which sponsors Czech football league leaders Slovan Liberec, denies any wrongdoing.
Czech Airlines may have lost pots of money because of high fuel prices in recent months, but it continues to go from strength to strength in terms of passenger numbers: in the first nine months of this year its passenger count rose by a whopping 22% year-on-year to just over four million.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Prague's Ruzyne airport also recorded an increase in passengers cleared in the period in question, with a rise of 13.5 percent year-on-year. The airport expects to handle a total of 11 million passengers this year. That's a remarkable figure considering that in the whole of 1991 Ruzyne handled just a million and a half passengers. And, with the new North 2 Terminal due to be completed by the end of the year, it is set to keep growing for some time yet.
There was some very positive news for home buyers this week, with reports that prices of new properties are stagnating and older real estate is actually falling in price. This fall has been seen in almost all the capitals of the Czech Republic's regions; that according to the Regional Information Institute quoted in the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes.
Meanwhile, rents have also stagnated and have actually fallen in the case of prefabricated blocks of flats known as "panelaky". Renting in a panelak is 20 to 30 percent cheaper than what they call a "brick building" one agent told the Czech Press Agency. Given the sluggish market, the return on investment in flats has dropped. But it's still higher than the yield on bank deposits in the Czech Republic.
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