In the early years of Radio Free Europe, the U.S. station – although initially founded and largely secretly funded by the CIA – played a critical role in providing balanced, objective news to listeners in the Eastern Bloc, especially during turbulent periods of history. Having failed to live up its own standards when covering the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, RFE took a radically different approach to its coverage of the Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, says former RFE director A. Ross Johnson.
Czech Radio is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year. The Czech national radio broadcaster has come a long way since its pioneering days. Today it is the biggest radio broadcaster in the country with 9 channels, manned not only by its Prague staff but 14 regional branches providing news and reports from around the country. The station’s buildings are also an important part of its history. On the occasion of Czech Radio’s 95th anniversary we have prepared a photo gallery of its buildings, some of them valuable architectural landmarks.
Many people don’t know that the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest leading Czech orchestras. It was founded only three years after the creation of Czech Radio in 1923 and it is currently celebrating its 91st season. I talked to Jakub Čížek, the Director of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra about their ongoing season and began by asking him about the orchestra’s mission.
From Wednesday Czech Radio is available on Alexa, a voice-activated smart device of the kind that may be seen in most homes in the future. To get Radio Prague’s news, for instance, all you need to do is issue a command and the headlines are playing a few second later. I discussed Alexa – which resembles a small round speaker – with Czech Radio new media specialist Adam Javůrek.
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.