The Czech Republic has advanced three places to be ranked the 13th best country for media freedom in an annual survey carried out by the NGO Reporters Without Frontiers. Austria is ahead of the Czech Republic in 12th place with Germany following in 14th. Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway are unchanged as the best placed of the 180 countries surveyed with Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea at the bottom of the ranking.
The European Newspaper Publishers’ Association condemned a proposed amendment to the Czech criminal law which would ban the publishing of phone calls intercepted by the police. The Association says freedom of the press in the country would be threatened if the amendment enters into force. The condemnation comes a week after the same bill was criticized by Reporters Without Borders. The amendment, which introduces prison sentences of up to five years for anyone who publishes such interceptions, was approved by the lower house last year but was rejected by the Senate, sending it back to the Chamber of Deputies which is expected to vote on it again this month.
Last Thursday, the Czech tabloid known simply as Aha! published semi-naked photographs of the 77 year-old Czech actress Jiřina Bohdalová. The photographs were taken clandestinely, while the actress was on holiday in Turkey. Soon after, it was revealed that Ms Bohdalová had suffered a mental breakdown and was undergoing psychiatric treatment. Questions have since been raised about just how far the Czech media can go and what the limits to public interest really are.
Milos Cermak is one of the Czech Republic's leading newspaper columnists, and is a regular contributor to both the liberal daily Lidove noviny and the social affairs and arts magazine Reflex. When we spoke at his downtown Prague office last week topics included Czech journalistic standards, whether there really are orchestrated campaigns against politicians, and if Czech papers come under pressure from advertisers to report, or not report, in a certain way. But first Milos Cermak (who, by the way, is an exceedingly tall gentleman) told that he wasn't
The international press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders published their annual "Press Freedom Index" this week, after surveying the media in 168 countries throughout the world. The Czech Republic, surprisingly, ranked fifth - sandwiched between the Netherlands and Estonia. But does this country really boast such a high level of press freedom? Rob Cameron has this report.