30 years since launch of TV Nova

The first private broadcast television station in the former Eastern bloc lit up audience’s screens for the first time on 4th February 1994 at 7 pm. It soon became the most-watched Czech television channel with a more than 50 percent share in the market, and retained this position until the early 2010s.

The first news program of TV Nova on February 4,  1994 at 7 p.m. | Photo: TV Nova

30 years ago, TV Nova started up with just a single channel. But the content that began appearing on Nova radically differed from what the owners of the channel had obtained a license for. Thanks to the lenient licensing conditions, instead of an intellectual television channel featuring educational programs, discussion panels and documentaries, it became the Czech version of a regular commercial television station.

Call the Director with Vladimír Železný | Photo: YouTube

The program Call the Director, broadcast every Saturday at noon, made Nova’s first CEO, Vladimír Železný, a household name and a prominent face on the channel in the station’s early years.

Over time more and more Nova channels popped up – in 2008, the film channel Nova Cinema was launched; in 2012, Fanda (today Nova Action) and the comedy channel Smíchov (today Nova 2); and in 2013 the retro channel Telka (today Nova Gold). Nowadays Nova’s portfolio also includes paid Nova Sport channels, a news website, and its own streaming service, Voyo.

Photo: Jiří Suchomel,  Czech Radio

Especially in its early years, Nova was one of the most profitable television stations in Europe. But after Vladimír Železný terminated the station’s licensing agreement with Central European Media Enterprises (CME) in 1999, effectively seizing control of the station and making CME's original €140m investment to fund the enterprise worthless, a string of lawsuits followed. CME won and was awarded damages of $270 million, which were eventually paid using Czech taxpayers' money.

Photo: TV Nova