Central Europe Review find out about advertising in CER
Vol 3, No 7
19 February 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 10 February 2001

Mark Preskett


View today's updated headlines from Slovakia and the Czech Republic

The strike is over

Czech Television (ČT) journalists have at last called an end to their nearly two-month long strike after signing an agreement with the new temporary director of ČT, Jiří Balvín, on Saturday. Mr Balvín was appointed by the Chamber of Deputies to take over the position of general director last Friday, a position vacated by Jiří Hodač, who was ousted last month by the channel's protesting staff.

The agreement was signed after Balvín met most of the strikers' demands, which included the dismissal of the three members of Hodač's old management team, who were on the strikers' most-wanted list: Věra Valterová, authorized by Mr Hodač to manage ČT in his place, returned to ČT's legal department; Jana Bobošíková, head of the News and Current Affairs Department, and Financial Director Jindřich Beznoska were both dismissed from their posts and left ČT.

The deal also stipulated that several journalists, sacked by Balvín's predecessor, be reinstated and that the strikers by protected from any recourse stemming from the strike.

On Tuesday, Mr Balvín appointed Petr Koliha, a producer at ČT and ex-programme director at Prima television, as head of programming and Petr Vašíček, a financial controller at ČT, as financial director.

In a meeting with Mrs Valterová on the same day, Mr Balvín gave the green light to the launch of a forensic audit of ČT's financial management by signing a contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers. There was some debate over the choice of firm. Minister of Culture Pavel Dostál told the Czech News Agency (ČTK) that "the audit, requested by Věra Valterová, isn't legitimate... it is debatable whether she had the right to request the audit."

Mr Balvín will remain in place as temporary general director until a new ČT council is elected in roughly three to four months.


TV Nova hits the headlines

Vladimír Železný, the general director of Television Nova, lost an eagerly awaited arbitration decision with the American firm CME on Tuesday. The International Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam decided that Mr Železný must pay USD 27 million to CME. CME must, however, return its 6% share in the firm Česká nezávislá televizní společnost (ČNTS).

Mr Železný immediately announced that he would file a lawsuit to revoke the arbitration decision. Despite this, the Železný camp remained upbeat. "We are not looking at it as a loss but as a draw," Martin Chalupský, spokesman for Mr Železný, told the national daily Lidové noviny. This is understandable, considering CME wanted USD 470 million as damages for lost earnings.

"It is the first concrete verdict. But I expect some Železný trickery and that he will try to wriggle out of paying the full amount," said Jan Vávra, a CME representative.

CME had given Mr Železný USD 23 million, allowing him to gain a majority in the company CET 21, which holds the license for transmitting TV Nova's programming. Two years ago, CME decided that Mr Železný was not adhering to their agreement and dismissed him from the post of general director. However, he managed to outmaneuver CME and began broadcasting alone.

According to international convention, it is up to the Czech state to hold Mr Železný to the arbitration ruling. This, though, could be a problem. Officially, he has hardly any assets, having transferred most of his holdings to his former wife and closest friends.

"We have, of course, prepared for a number of scenarios, but we must wait for further negotiation," said Czech Prime Minister Miloš Zeman.


Nomura's gloves are off

Nomura Europe and Saluka Investments filed a complaint against the Czech Republic at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday. This came one week after the investment group had asked the European Commission (EC) to begin an investigation into the forced administration imposed on Investiční a poštovní banka (IPB) in June of last year.

Nomura and Saluka claim that the forced administration and subsequent sale of the bank to the Československá obchodní banka (ČSOB) three days later violated the Human Rights Convention's provisions concerning protection of property rights. They also claim incidences of police intimidation occurred. Claire Williams, spokeswoman for Nomura, stated that police broke into Nomura's offices in Prague and illegally searched them.

Finance Ministry spokesman, Libor Vacek, denied the allegations. "I cannot imagine the Finance Ministry sending the police anywhere," he told ČTK.

Saluka Investments, which owned 46% of IPB before the forced administration, have asked the EC to force the Czech Ministry of Finance to pay CSK 30.5 billion (USD 807 million) in compensation. The Ministry, in turn, is investigating Nomura's purchase of two Czech breweries, Plzeňský Prazdroj and Radegast, which it financed with IPB assets.


Anti-Temelín protests continue

Austrian opponents to the Temelín nuclear power plant in South Bohemia have announced that a demonstration will take place at the Wullowitz/Dolní Dvořiště border starting on Friday.

Josef Phüringer, spokesman for the Upper Austrian anti-nuclear lobby, told local media via e-mail that, "Until 3:00 p.m., we will wait and see whether the Czech government extends the time period for carrying out the assessment of Temelín. If it doesn't, a blockade of the Wullowitz crossing will take place."

Since its partial launch in October 2000, the plant's reactor has been repeatedly shut down due to technical difficulties. Temelín currently remains off-line until the causes of the problems can be identified. No official reactivation date has been announced.


Land anyone?

In a move that the Czech government hopes will aid the Czech Republic's entry into the EU, fixed dates were given which will allow foreigners to buy land. Any citizen from the EU will be able to purchase agricultural land and woodland within ten years and real estate used as a second residence, cottages and summer houses, within five years.

The new ruling illustrates a change in tactics in the Czech government's attempts to persuade the EU that the country is ready for entry.

Mark Preskett, 16 February 2001

Moving on:


Hospodářské noviny
Lidové noviny
Mladá fronta Dnes
ČTK—Czech News Agency

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


Brian J Požun
Slovene Art

Sam Vaknin
Macedonia's Unemployed

Jessica Houghton and Balázs Jarábik
Slovaks Must Learn

Catherine Lovatt
The End of Kuchma?

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Joint Efforts

Tiffany G Petros
High Times

Martin Šulík

Andrew James Horton
Šulík Abroad

Christina Manetti

Christina Manetti
Šulík Interviewed


Andrew Roberts
Post-Communist Party Systems

Štěpán Kotrba
Sow and Reap

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:
Oliver Craske
Caught on Tape


CER eBookclub Members enter here