Friday night will see the premiere of a new episode of Kancelář Blaník or Blaník Office, a hugely popular political comedy series now beginning its fourth season. Broadcast on the online TV channel Stream.cz since April 2014, the show has become one of the hits contributing to the increasing popularity of internet-only television in the Czech Republic.
A new unit run by the Czech interior ministry designed to counter fake news and state-sponsored disinformation is to be up and running by January 1. Addressing concerns about censorship, the government insists that the new Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats is a necessary tool critical to national security.
President Miloš Zeman has vetoed a conflict of interest bill which would restrict the business activities of cabinet members and bar them from owning media outlets. The proposed legislation was set to have a major impact on ANO’s billionaire boss Andrej Babis and the president’s veto has increased speculation about a growing allegiance between the two political heavyweights.
The Czech expatriate community in the Australian city of Brisbane only counts several hundred people, but they have always been very active in maintaining the Czech language and culture for future generations. One of the members of the local expat community is Lenka TeWhiu, who settled in Brisbane more than fifteen years ago. I caught up with her during her recent visit to Prague to talk about her life in Australia and about her work for a local radio station. But I first asked her how she herself ended up living in Australia:
A bill aimed at preventing cabinet members from owning media outlets is again in the spotlight. According to a freshly published opinion, the amendment – targeted at ANO’s billionaire boss Andrej Babiš – is unconstitutional. However, the other coalition parties dismiss that argument and are pushing ahead with the legislation.
A photograph of a skirmish between human rights activists and supporters of Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Prague this year has won the top prize in this year’s Czech Press Photo. During the visit in March, organized groups of Chinese supporters clashed with Czech activists, some of them evoking the legacy of the late Václav Havel and his friendship with the Dalai Lama. The winning entry was taken by photojournalist Michal Šula.
Czech Radio has produced a photograph of the US ambassador to Prague, Andrew Shapiro, attending this year’s Czechoslovak Independence Day celebrations at Prague Castle, following President Zeman’s claim that he was one of the few diplomats who stayed away from the event. Mr. Shapiro’s presence at the ceremony in Prague Castle’s Vladislav Hall was also confirmed by the German Ambassador to Prague Arndt Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven who sat next to him at the event. Relations between the president and US ambassador have been strained since the spring of 2015 when Ambassador Shapiro criticized the Czech head of state for attending V-Day celebrations in Moscow while other EU leaders boycotted the event in protest over Russia’s interference in Ukraine.
A proposal by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia to cut the VAT rate on newspapers has won backing in the lower house of parliament. The move to cut the current 15 percent rate to 10 percent was passed at first reading. It now goes to the upper house, the Senate. The move was initially opposed by the government, partly on the grounds that it would cut tax earnings by around 500 million crowns a year and also due to misgivings whether sales would rise. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, the owner of two national newspapers, did not vote on the issue.
Czech broadcasters are promising live and continued coverage of the US election, reacting to results as they come in. Among those preparing special coverage are Czech Television, Czech Radio and commercial broadcaster TV Nova. The US election will see either the Democratic Party nominee, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, or the Republican nominee, businessman Donald J. Trump, emerge as the 45th president of the United States. Czech TV’s ČT24 will begin its live coverage at 12:30 am, local time, continuing through Wednesday morning until noon. Special documentaries on the election will also air on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.
One of the biggest events at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival was the premiere of Little Mole and Laozi by Filip Remunda. Part of Czech Television’s Czech Journal series, which Remunda runs with Vít Klusák, it centres on events surrounding the visit of China’s president, Xi Jinping, to Prague in March. At that time Chinese flags were placed all along the road from the airport to the city centre, while groups of seemingly organised Chinese loudly welcomed Xi and clashed with protesting supporters of Tibet. Speaking after the Jihlava
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