Central Europe Review find out about advertising in CER
Vol 3, No 1
8 January 2001
front page 
our awards 
CER cited 
jobs at CER 
CER Direct 
e-mail us 
year 2000 
year 1999 
by subject 
by author 
EU Focus 
music shop 
video store 
find books 


Czech newsNews from the
Czech Republic

All the important news
since 30 December 2000

Mark Preskett


Tension at ČT heightens

Front pages have been dominated throughout the Christmas and New Year period by the dramatic events unfolding at Czech Television (ČT). The pre-Christmas appointment of Jiří Hodač, the former head of the BBC's Czech Section, as new director general of ČT has caused a storm of protest.

View today's updated headlines from the Czech Republic and Slovakia
Journalists and news editors have locked themselves in the ČT newsroom since the New Year, and a mass demonstration was attended by tens of thousands of people on Wednesday in support of the protestors and demanding the dismissal of Hodač.

ČT employees complain that the ČT Council, which appointed Mr Hodač is highly politicised, members being aligned to one or other of the two main political parties, the Social Democrats (ČSSD) and Civic Democrats (ODS). They have called for Hodač and his management to be sacked or resign.

Czech President Václav Havel has openly supported the protestors from the outset. The ODS and its Chairman, Václav Klaus, on the other hand, have loudly condemned the "unlawful behaviour of the rebel TV staff." The conflict, Klaus said, will either end in a "victory for standard democracy" or in the triumph of "Havlocracy." Klaus has denied he was in any way involved in Hodač's nomination.

To further complicate matters, Mr Hodač was rushed to hospital on Thursday morning suffering from"acute health problems," and was immediately admitted into the intensive acre unit. ČT News Director Jána Bobošíkovíá said Hodač had collapsed due to complete exhaustion.

The Chamber of Deputies will hold an emergency session on January 12 to discuss a draft amendment to the law on ČT, which should prevent political influences in ČT management in the future.

More on the Czech TV crisis


First proposal

In what the spokesman for the European Commission, Jean-Christophe Filori described as "the first precise and meaningful proposal," the German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, stated that workers from new member countries would have to wait seven years before they could work freely in the EU.

Reaction to Schröder's statement was mixed. President of Hungary Vikor Orbán said "those from Hungary who would like to work in Austria or Germany are already doing so." The Czech Prime Minister, Miloš Zeman, however, was a little more circumspect. "I would not like to react hysterically because I realise that it is the statement of one representative out of 15 member states of the EU," he said.

The EU implemented similar restrictions for Portugal and Spain in 1985. A seven-year period, in which no Spanish or Portuguese worker could freely gain employment in other countries of the EU, was one of the conditions for entry. However, the condition was scrapped after only two years because fears that West European markets would be flooded with cheap labour seemed to be exaggerated.

The German Chancellor did, though, concede that the "advantaged candidates" might be granted a reduction in the transition period.


Controversy over new bank

Česká Národní Banka (ČNB) this week became subject to a new law which orders the central bank to agree on inflation targets with the government and makes its operating budget subject to parliamentary approval.

Czech President Václav Havel was quick to condemn the new law. "This kind of co-ordination with the government [on inflation targets] could in a fundamental way limit the ČNB in fulfilling its main aim, set by the Constitution," Havel said in a petition to the Constutional Court.

The two points also have been criticised by the European Commission, which has suggested that such fundamental links to the government could condition future bank behaviour.

The law was sponsored by the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS), whose chairman, former Prime Minister Václav Klaus, has for years been a vocal critic of the central bank's tight monetary policy.

The minority Social Democrat (ČSSD) Cabinet's deputies also backed the law, over=riding the Senate and Havel's vetoes.


New law ignored

A change in the Czech Republic's highway law, which came into effect on 1 January, coincided with a spell of extreme cold weather. As a result the country has this week seen hundreds of car accidents and two deaths.

Most recently an accident occurred involving six cars on a stretch of road between Olomouc and Přerov, blocking the road for some time. The government has denied any connection between the accidents and the new law.

The new law includes a ban on the use of mobile phones whilst driving, unless drivers use headphones, and it also mandates compulsory use of seatbelts for children. One of the biggest changes included in the new law is that for the first time Czech pedestrians now have the right of way at pedestrian crossings.

According to the national daily, Lidové Noviný, the new law has been widely ignored. Drivers continue to use mobile phones without headphones, and children are still not being strapped in.

Mark Preskett, 6 January 2001

Also on the Czech TV crisis in this issue of CER:

Moving on:

Today's updated headlines from the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Powered by moreover.com Powered by moreover.com


Read CER's review of
last week's news from
the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Read CER's review of
last week's news from
the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Return to CER front page


Ivana Gogova

Bernhard Seliger
Ten Years After

Mel Huang
Lithuania Fumbles

Sam Vaknin
Dirty Diplomats

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Caring for Your Own

Slavko Živanov
A Lesson in Democracy

Gerhard Jochem
Paying for the Past

CzTV Crisis:
James Partridge
Getting Ahead in TV

Jan Čulík
Taking Them to
the Streets

Robert M Kokta
More of the Same?

Andrew Stroehlein
A Revolution in Television

Jan Čulík
Dead Air

Jana Dědečková

Miloš Zeman

Steven Saxonberg
Social Costs of Transformation

Henryk Grynberg:
Christina Manetti
Z ksiengi rodzaju

Christina Manetti

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Press Reviews:
Andrea Mrozek
Who's the Boss?

Oliver Craske
Zoran and Göran


CER eBookclub Members enter here