Political Wrangling Continues over Czech Television

08-01-2001

The crisis in Czech Television is now in its third week. In a fifteen-hour long session on Friday, the Lower House of Parliament discussed the future of Czech Television director, Jiri Hodac, who was appointed by the Czech Television Council, which is dominated by the two main political parties, the ruling Social Democrats, and the main opposition Civic Democrats.

There has been widespread dissent over Mr Hodac's selection, and last week 100,000 people gathered on Wenceslas Square to call for his resignation. The Social Democrat government has now withdrawn its support for Mr Hodac, who was hospitalised after apparently collapsing from exhaustion on Thursday. The government has proposed a change to the law on the selection of the television council, whereby candidates would be put forward by independent organisations. The Civic Democrats are now the only party backing Mr Hodac, and party leader Vaclav Klaus has accused the opposition Four Party Coalition, and President Vaclav Havel, of engineering the crisis to gain political influence and force early elections. Nick Carey spoke to the BBC's Prague correspondent, Ray Furlong, and asked him for his reaction to Mr Klaus' statement: