14-11-2003

Czech dailies do not find a common main domestic story today. While MLADA FRONTA DNES leads with a report on another fatal accident on a pedestrian crossing, LIDOVE NOVINY writes about potential Czech participation in a new television station to be launched in Iraq in February, and PRAVO on its front page discusses the question of remuneration for members of supervisory boards of state-run companies.

A Czech-Iraqi TV station could start broadcasting in February, writes LIDOVE NOVINY. The paper interviews the man behind the project, a Czech businessman in his early sixties who wished to remain anonymous. The man also refused to disclose the name of his company because of fears that competition might abuse the information. LIDOVE NOVINY comments that the other five Czech companies that have signed preliminary contracts in Iraq are behaving in a similar way.

The TV station's provisional name is the "Voice of the South" and it is expected to start broadcasting three hours daily in a trial run in February. The "Voice of the South" is expected to broadcast mainly news and current affairs programmes but also children's cartoons. According to LIDOVE NOVINY, the channel should gradually start broadcasting films, including Czech ones. Eight Czechs plus equipment are to leave for Iraq soon to prepare conditions for the business.

PRAVO writes that members of statutory bodies of state-dominated companies receive monthly pay that often exceeds 100,000 crowns, over five times the national average. They also get a number of bonuses and perks such as share options or cars at their disposal. The article follows reports that four representatives of unions and employees on the supervisory board of the state-run power utility CEZ who criticised former director Jaroslav Mil are now, thanks to him, millionaires.

PRAVO explains that the workers' representatives accepted the offer of the board of directors, headed by Mr Mil, and signed an option contract for 100,000 shares in CEZ last year. On top of that they receive a monthly bonus of 100,000 crowns. The union representatives did not have to pay anything for the shares but if they chose to sell them now at market price, they would make around five and a half million crowns.

A headline in LIDOVE NOVINY writes that the Communists have steamrolled the Social Democrats. The headline, of course, refers to the latest poll by the TNS Factum agency which suggests that the Communist Party has overtaken the governing Social Democrats by four percent, which makes it the second strongest party after the opposition Civic Democrats. Political analyst Zdenek Zboril says in LIDOVE NOVINY that disappointed left-wing oriented voters have turned away from the Social Democrats to the only left-wing alternative, the Communists. Most of them no longer make any connection between the current Communist Party and its pre-1989 predecessor, LIDOVE NOVINY quotes political analyst Zdenek Zboril.

On a related topic, the paper carries an analysis of the events of 1989 and concludes that the prime minister of the first post-communist government, Marian Calfa, himself a communist, had a lion's share in persuading the communist majority in the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly to vote for Vaclav Havel in the first post-communist presidential election. LIDOVE NOVINY based its article on a new book by historian Jiri Suk called "Through the Labyrinth of Revolution" in which he studies the circumstances of Vaclav Havel's election and other events of 1989.

MLADA FRONTA DNES carries a sad story. Seven-year-old Honzik Kristin and his friend from the town of Zruc nad Sazavou never arrived at their school yesterday. They were knocked down on a pedestrian crossing by a truck whose driver had allegedly ignored a red light. The paper adds that since January, twelve people have been killed on pedestrian crossings. Last year the toll was 32 pedestrians.

The paper also reports that sexually-motivated violence is on the increase in the capital city. Police have dealt with almost ninety cases of rape in Prague. While in 2000, Prague police investigated 58 cases of rape, the number of reported sexual assaults in 2002 rose to 111, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

14-11-2003