Czech politicians have sharply rejected the idea that the country’s
public broadcasters –Czech Radio and Czech Television – should be
nationalized. The suggestion was made by the head of the Party of Freedom
and Direct Democracy Tomio Okamura in an interview for Czech Radio, when he
claimed that the financing of the two institutions was intransparent and
they should be under national supervision. He said his party was in favour
of scrapping license fees and making the public broadcasters entirely
dependent on state support.
Politicians from the ANO party, the Pirates party, the Christian Democrats, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents slammed the idea saying they would never support censorship or take any measure that would undermined the independence of the country’s public broadcasters.
The head of Czech Radio Rene Zavoral said Czech Radio regularly presents reports on spending to the lower house of Parliament and argued that nationalizing the public broadcaster would be in violation of the basic principles of democracy.
Czech Radio’s Prague headquarters was very much the focal point for the Prague uprising against Nazi rule at the end of WWII. And today’s top state personalities assembled on Friday outside the radio building to pay homage to the hundreds who fell at the barricades in Prague and in scattered skirmishes across the country.
Czech leaders marked the 72nd anniversary of the Prague Uprising at the Czech Radio building on Friday, a focal point of the uprising in which Czechs took up arms against the Nazis. The radio station itself became a beacon for resistance when the call went out in a broadcast for the rising to start and for citizens to come and help defend the radio building against German attempts to retake it. Among those attending Friday’s memorial event were the heads of both Czech house of parliament, Milan Štěch and Jan Hamáček, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová.
Czech Radio has just launched Zhasni!, or Turn the Lights Out!, the station’s first dedicated podcast series. The move is aimed at boosting Czech listeners’ usage of podcasts, a delivery system particularly popular in the US via which subscribers automatically receive audio files – including, of course, radio shows – on their smartphones or other devices. To find out more about this drive I spoke to Edita Kudláčová and Robert Candra from Czech Radio’s Creative Hub group. My first question: What is Zhasni! and how did it come about?
While most of us can only dream about attending a World Cup or Olympic Games, David Koubek got to experience both as Czech Radio’s correspondent in Brazil. In his two and a half years in Rio de Janeiro, Koubek also got to travel to many other parts of South America and met all kinds of interesting people, including – he told me after his recent return to Prague – a German “Bohemian” community proud of their Czech roots. But when we spoke, I first asked the Czech Radio man how he had managed to cover the 2014 World Cup, given the sheer vastness of
The District Court for Prague 2 has given 10 month conditional sentences to
three people, former culture minister Jiří Balvín, former deputy head of
Czech Radio Michal Koliandr, and businessman Jan Hnilička, suspected of
corruption in connection with the attempted sale of a chateau in Přerov
nad Labem belonging to Czech Radio. In addition, each has also been order
to pay a 240,000 crown fine.
The ruling reverses an earlier decision from April last year, in which the three were found not guilty based on insufficient evidence. Monday’s decision is not final; two of three defendants have already appealed, the Czech News Agency reported. As a consequence of the case, the planned tender on the sale of the chateau was cancelled by the broadcaster. The region of Central Bohemia expressed an interest in obtaining the property last year.
Czech Radio has produced a photograph of the US ambassador to Prague, Andrew Shapiro, attending this year’s Czechoslovak Independence Day celebrations at Prague Castle, following President Zeman’s claim that he was one of the few diplomats who stayed away from the event. Mr. Shapiro’s presence at the ceremony in Prague Castle’s Vladislav Hall was also confirmed by the German Ambassador to Prague Arndt Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven who sat next to him at the event. Relations between the president and US ambassador have been strained since the spring of 2015 when Ambassador Shapiro criticized the Czech head of state for attending V-Day celebrations in Moscow while other EU leaders boycotted the event in protest over Russia’s interference in Ukraine.