12-01-2001

The Czech public television crisis is the leading story in all the Czech papers today, with comments not only on its possible outcome, but also on its implications for Czech public life as a whole. Mlada Fronta Dnes carries an article by one of its chief commentators, Martin Komarek, who says that the Czech Television audience will never be the same again. Czechs have learned that they cannot take everything they see and hear on their screens as the unquestionable truth. But they have also learned that the political scene as presented by the leading political parties can be changed, that the average citizen's rights are not restricted to casting a vote in elections held every four years. Jiri Hodac, who headed Czech public TV for such a short time did not succeed in changing it, but involuntarily he changed the whole country, says the paper's commentator.

The daily Pravo reports on the Prague municipality's constant, and so far not very successful struggle to do away with the graffiti on many buildings in downtown Prague, including numerous historic monuments. Last year the city spent 3.5 million crowns on cleaning up the graffiti sprayed facades of historic buildings and another 5.5 million on ridding school buildings of the same. One of the reasons why Prague is so much more graffiti marked than other big cities are the low penalties for sprayers stipulated by law. The municipality is lobbying to have the law amended. Meanwhile, it is running a number of campaigns hoping to convince sprayers to find different ways of showing off their artistic talents. A part of this campaign are special clubs for young people, where they can spray pictures and signs on huge pieces of paper and billboards.

Mlada Fronta Dnes reports on a unique way of solving frequent squabbles between Roma and non-Roma guests in a village pub in Northern Bohemia. The owner was considering closing the pub down because of the quarrels and complaints. But both sides asked him not to, so he had the pub divided into two parts, with two separate entrances - one from the street - for Roma guests, the other from the yard, for the rest. The Mlada Fronta Dnes reporter says, both sides are satisfied, and the solution has met with the approval of the local council. One of its members is quoted as saying that the divided pub may not have solved all the discrepancies between the two groups, but it has calmed things down. Many of the disputes used to start in the pub, and now that's out. And if anybody says this is a racist measure, she adds, he's talking nonsense.

Sending a telegram as a means of getting your message through fast, is on its way out, says today's Lidove Noviny. The number of telegrams sent last year was only one tenth of the number sent in 1990. The reasons are obvious - SMS messages and e-mail are much faster, and much cheaper. Much cheaper. And as for speed, sometimes a telegram isn't delivered any faster than an ordinary letter. If you send your telegram from a post office somewhere out in the country, it may not reach its destination before the day after tomorrow. An ordinary letter would get there just as fast. Having the telegram's contents announced by phone can speed things up, but in that case, why bother, you can do that directly, and for half the price, Lidove Noviny states.

12-01-2001