ODS Slams Czech Television For Not Airing Its Press Conference


Prague, Sept 11 (CTK) – The fact that the public Czech Television (CT) did not broadcast a part of the press conference the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) held before the opening of the Chamber of Deputies session today amounts to scandalous censorship, ODS spokeswoman Jana Havelkova said.


CT did not broadcast an introductory speech made by ODS chairman Petr Fiala. It only broadcast the following statement by ODS deputies’ group chairman Zbynek Stanjura.


“It was not a coincidence or a technical problem, as Czech Television has told me. It was an intention. Because they thought it (Fiala’s speech) was not about the Chamber of Deputies but about the election campaign. But this is not true,” Havelkova said.


Fiala said in his speech at the press conference that no government proposal of fundamental importance is on the agenda of the lower house’s current session.


Fiala also criticised Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) for campaigning and failing to meet his promises. He called on Babis to hold a debate with his political rivals.


Fiala later published his entire speech on Facebook.


“We regard the failure to broadcast a speech made by the chairman of the second strongest party and the strongest opposition party as scandalous censorship. Nobody had told us ahead what may and what must not be said at the press conferences which the Czech Television broadcasts regularly after meetings of deputies’ groups,” Havelkova said.


In the past, CT did broadcast press conferences at which candidates running in local elections and politicians talked about issues that were not on the agenda of the Chamber of Deputies, Havelkova noted.


Havelkova called on CT to make public the rules based on which it decided not to broadcast Fiala’s speech.


CT said its CT24 channel focusing on newscasts is not obliged to broadcast press conferences of any entities, so the accusation of censorship is pointless. The television also pointed to its rules of pre-election and election broadcasting which it follows before each elections.


CT also emphasised that CT24 is an autonomous desk. When covering deputies groups’ press conferences today, it preferred choosing and broadcasting deputies’ comments on topics directly connected with various points on the lower house’s agenda, Michaela Zahradkova, from CT, told CTK.


CT’s rules describe in detail the criteria of pre-election broadcasting involving candidates or campaigns.


“Events connected with politicians, candidates for the posts of deputies and senators, political parties, movements and their coalitions cannot be held back. It is, however, important to prevent Czech Television from becoming a tool of a unilateral or distorting promotion of a concrete candidate for the post of deputy or senator or a political entity,” one of the CT’s rules says.


The Czech local and Senate elections are due in early October.