Television Law passed by parliament - better than nothing

24-01-2001

The lower house of the Czech parliament has passed a law aimed at solving the month-old crisis in Czech Television. They overruled amendments proposed by the Senate, and President Havel wasted no time in signing the new television law, even though he did also question its quality. But, he said, the situation in Czech Public TV needs to be resolved fast, and the new law will break the deadlock, enabling parliament to appoint an interim director, who could bring the conflict between striking journalists and the TV management under control. Olga Szantova reports.

The old TV law gave the Lower House of Parliament considerable control over Czech Public TV, and this was one of the main catalysts in the TV crisis that started nearly a month ago. In this respect the new law changes little, but surprisingly it has been broadly welcomed, even by the rebellious TV staff. One of their spokesmen, Michal Kubal confirmed this.

Under the new law, the governing body that appoints Czech TV's director and controls its work will still be appointed only by the Lower House of Parliament and will depend on the strength of the political parties within it. But even many that criticize the law are confident that this can be changed in the future, and that the main priority at the moment is solving the short-term crisis.

Among those who take this stand is Senator Edvard Outrata, but he is also disappointed that the numerous amendments proposed by the Senate have been completely ignored.

An optimistic view of the situation in Czech Public TV as seen by Senator Outrata. It may not be the best of situations if a law is passed and even before it is implemented amendments are expected, but the situation is anything but normal and does require extraordinary measures.

24-01-2001