The Public Media Alliance endorses statements by the Global Task Force for public media, EBU and MFRR against the politicisation of the Czech public broadcaster.

Czech TV (Česká Televize, ČT) has long been credited with playing a critical role in underpinning democracy. But now its hard-fought independence is under threat from the country’s ruling ANO party and their attempts to politicise ČT’s oversight body – the Council of Czech TV. The Council appoints the director-general and approves the broadcaster’s budget.

While Czech TV has faced numerous threats in recent years, these latest concerns have been building since the Council’s firing of ČT’s supervisory board in November 2020. Since then, there have been attempts to replace members with those who are loyal to ANO and known critics of Director-General, Petr Dvořák.

Find out more: Concerns over increasing meddling in independence of Czech public broadcaster (MFRR)

The Global Task Force for public media (GTF), which has previously expressed its concerns about the undermining of independent journalism in Eastern Europe, said: “Now more than ever, there is a need for strong, independent, public service media that citizens can trust. This is at risk in the Czech Republic. This risk comes at a time when the country is heading into a parliamentary election later this year and, like all countries, facing the challenges of COVID-19.”

The industry-led initiative is urging leaders across Czech media, business and culture to speak out in support of independent media and has called upon the Media Freedom Coalition to consider developments in the Czech Republic.

The EBU has also expressed its concern and written to Czech Parliamentarians to “urge them to protect the independence of the broadcaster so it can remain a model for public broadcasting in the Czech Republic and across the continent.” In an op-ed, EBU’s President Delphine Ernotte Cunci and Director General Noel Curran said: “With general elections due in October, the EBU believes that the new effort to weight the CT governing council in favour of the state’s government is a final effort to oust the CEO and establish a pliant CT in time for campaigns to begin in the autumn.

The Public Media Alliance fully supports calls from the EBU, GTF and MFRR to ensure and protect the independence of public media in the Czech Republic and condemns any attempt to politicise Czech TV. 

Header Image: Ceska televize public television broadcaster company logo on the headquarters building on March 9, 2018 in Prague, Czech Republic. Credit: josefkubes/iStock