Czech Republic

Concerns over increasing meddling in independence of Czech public broadcaster

MFRR partners express our serious concern over the latest efforts by the ruling ANO party and its allies to further politicise the oversight body of the Czech public broadcaster.

The MFRR is worried that the slow-motion yet obvious efforts to stack the Council of the Czech TV (ČT Council) are ultimately aimed at the erosion of the public television’s independence and politically-motivated realignment of its news and opinion programming. Our organisations are also alarmed by the apparent attempt by members of the ČT Council to find grounds to dismiss the broadcaster’s director general ahead of tightly contested parliamentary elections in October.

These concerns were renewed on 18 March, when during its selection process for the next ČT Council election, the Electoral Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, which is dominated by the ANO party led by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, again shortlisted several candidates who appear to have been chosen for their political loyalties or long-standing criticism of the broadcaster, rather than their expertise or independence.

It now appears likely that when MPs vote in April to elect four candidates to sit on the ČT Council, the ANO and its allies in the governing coalition will again use their parliamentary majority to stack the 15-member body with their preferred candidates. If so, it would mirror a similar election last year which saw individuals with clear links to political groups selected.

Nik Williams