10-01-2001

Very few stories have been able to compete for front page space with the ongoing battle for control of the country's public TV network, but the eclipse of the moon is one of them. Tuesday night brought clear skies and today's papers carry photos of the eclipse in its various phases.

Having said that, the crisis at Czech Television remains a dominant front page story - and today there are numerous indications that the end of this drawn out crisis may be in sight. "Czech TV's supervisory board falling apart," says Lidove Noviny, reporting that three members of the council are ready to break ranks and resign even before the lower house meets on Friday to vote on recalling the board.

The supervisory board of Czech TV has surpassed everyone's idea of independence, says Lidove Noviny. At a time when the whole country is calling for the general director's resignation as the only way of breaking the deadlock, the supervisory board is refusing to act on recommendations. It is not merely independent, it's blind to reality, the paper notes.

Mlada Fronta Dnes says the Czech TV management's team has conceded defeat. No more rival news coverage. No more programme disruptions. The controversial head of news, Jana Bobosikova, has described this as a victory for the rebels. "But - is this really a victory?" Mlada Fronta Dnes asks.

By taking over the powers of the supervisory board of Czech TV, recalling the current general director and electing a temporary replacement the individual parties of parliament will play a much bigger role in public television broadcasting than they ever did in the past, the paper says. There is no doubt at all that the parties who do not support this course of action - and the Civic Democrats have clearly stated that they will not - will in future accuse the others of having bought favours at Czech Television.

In a related development, Lidove Noviny reports on the fact that the conflict at Czech TV has caused heated emotions over at the commercial TV station Nova. Nova's Director General, Vladimir Zelezny, has sided openly with the new management at Czech Television, devoting his regular Sunday letters programme to denouncing the rebels and what he called the misguided crowd on Wenceslas Square.

The conflict reached a head when Zelezny banned a programme on the crisis at Czech Television compiled by his investigative team of reporters without even having seen it. It was perfectly balanced and objective, one of the reporters told Lidove Noviny, but Mr. Zelezny said "those rebels would get no air time on his television."

On a different topic, Pravo has criticized a planned humanitarian flight to Iraq, saying it could seriously damage the country's reputation. Although the flight is organized by Czech entrepreneur Milan Moravek, Pravo has ascertained that a prominent Communist Party MP had a hand in organizing the trip and that several MPs were interested in going.

Mr Moravek, who told Pravo the trip would go ahead, insists that it's a humanitarian mission and the plane would be carrying aid for the long-suffering Iraqi people and nothing else. Other states have sent out similar humanitarian flights, Mr Moravek told the paper.

And finally, all the papers carry the surprising news that the Prime Minister's wife and six-year-old daughter have been given police protection for several months. The decision to give them round-the-clock police protection was made after the Prime Minister received repeated anonymous letters threatening his family.

Lidove Noviny talks to the Prime Minister's wife, Ivana Zemanova, who says a bodyguard now accompanies her young daughter to school, waiting out in the corridor during classes. She thinks it is a bit strange, but she's accepted it. We see no reason to tell her about the abduction threats, the Prime Minister's wife said. The paper lists nine cases, over the past eight years, in which Czech politicians or members of their families have been physically attacked.

10-01-2001