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, 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