Czech Republic: Follow Up to Request to Preserve Freedom and Independence of Public Service TV

Advocacy

02 June 2020

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All Members of Parliament of the Czech Republic

 

Follow Up to Request from March to Preserve Freedom and Independence of Public Service TV

 

02 June 2020

 

Dear Members of Parliament,

 

Ahead of the planned election in March we urged you to choose from candidates for the Council of Czech TV (Česká televize) independently from any political interference or alleged attempts of influence. This decision was fundamental for the freedom and independence of public service TV in the Czech Republic. The election result of the remaining candidates however on 27 May gives us great cause for concern.

 

We are concerned that the composition of the Council cannot be considered impartial or balanced between political groups no longer. The elected candidates reflect a one-sided political misbalance and open up the risk for direct political influence.

 

Attempts by the governing party to politicize the board and influence the decision were leaked in March, in a time when Public Service Media in the Czech Republic was already under pressure.

 

According to the emails published by Czech website info.cz, selection advice was based on candidates’ political leaning and attitude towards the ruling ANO party. The elected candidates received endorsement from the chairman of the election committee of the lower chamber with the argument that those candidates share the same critical stance to the Czech TV as ANO.

 

Michal Klima, head of IPI’s Czech National Committee, a journalist and former head of the Economia and Vltava Labe Media publishing houses, received the largest number of votes in the first round but however, was not elected despite his experience after MPs were strongly advised to vote against him. Such advise clearly showed the attempt to influence an impartial decision.

 

We consider the election result as a concerning development for maintaining international standards and the independence of Public Service TV. Public service broadcasters must serve the public interest, not the interests of one political party or even the government.

 

Be assured we continue watching the state of press freedom in the Czech Republic.

 

 

With best regards,

 

Lutz Kinkel, Managing Director, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, President, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Scott Griffen, Deputy Director, International Press Institute

Adam Černý, President, Syndicate of Journalists of Czech Republic

Otevřený dopis všem poslancům Parlamentu České republiky v návaznosti na žádost z března, aby byla zachována svoboda a nezávislost veřejnoprávní televize

 

  1. června 2020

Vážené poslankyně,

vážení poslanci,

 

před plánovanými březnovými volbami jsme vás vyzvali, abyste zvolili z kandidátů do Rady České televize (Česká televize) nezávisle na jakémkoli politickém zásahu nebo údajných pokusech o ovlivnění. Toto rozhodnutí bylo zásadní pro svobodu a nezávislost veřejnoprávní televize v České republice. Výsledek voleb zbývajících kandidátů dne 27. května je však z našeho pohledu velkým důvodem k obavám.

 

Jsme znepokojeni, že složení Rady již nelze považovat za nestranné a vyvážené napříč politickými skupinami. Zvolení kandidáti odrážejí jednostrannou politickou nerovnováhu a to otevírá riziko přímého politického vlivu.

 

Pokusy vládní strany politizovat Radu ČT a ovlivnit vaše rozhodnutí byly zveřejněny v březnu, v době, kdy byla veřejnoprávní média v České republice již pod tlakem. E-mail zveřejněný na českém webu info.cz obsahoval rady poslancům, aby volili kandidáty podle jejich politických preferencí a postoji k vládní straně ANO. Zvolení kandidáti získali podporu od předsedy volební komise dolní komory s argumentem, že tito kandidáti sdílejí s ČT stejně kritický postoj jako ANO.

 

Michal Klíma, předseda českého národního výboru IPI, novinář a bývalý šéf nakladatelství Economia a Vltava Labe Media, získal v prvním kole největší počet hlasů, ale přesto nebyl zvolen navzdory své zkušenosti poté, co poslanci obdrželi důrazné doporučení hlasovat proti němu. Takové doporučení je jasným pokusem ovlivnit nestranné rozhodování.

 

Výsledek volby považujeme za znepokojivý vývoj zvhledem k udržení mezinárodních standardů a nezávislosti veřejnoprávní televize. Veřejnoprávní vysílání musí sloužit veřejnému zájmu, nikoli zájmům jedné politické strany nebo dokonce vlády.

 

Ujišťujeme vás, že nadále sledujeme stav svobody tisku v České republice.

 

S pozdravem,

 

Lutz Kinkel, generální ředitel, Evropské centrum pro svobodu tisku a médií (ECPMF)

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, předseda Evropské federace novinářů (EFJ)

Scott Griffen, zástupce ředitele Mezinárodního tiskového institutu

Adam Černý, předseda Syndikát novinářů České republiky

This open letter is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), an Europe-wide mechanism, which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. The MFRR is organised by an consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) with ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project is co-funded by the European Commission. www.mfrr.eu

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