Critics cry foul after popular TV political satire show axed

Milan Sima, photo:

Czech Television have announced that it's axing its popular satirical TV show Bez Obalu - which loosely translates as Unwrapped. Many observers immediately cried foul, pointing to the frequent complaints from politicians and claiming Bez Obalu had become a victim of political pressure. But that's not the view held by the show's creators, among them journalist Milos Cermak.

"From my point of view it was quite a unique connection between commentary, visual things and the music. I'd never seen anything like that on Czech TV before; it was the idea of my colleague Milan Sima. I was writing the commentaries and he was doing everything else. I think it was quite unique the way we did it."

Obviously the programme was not very popular with the country's politicians, especially prime minister Jiri Paroubek. Why do you think he was so upset by Bez Obalu?

Jiri Paroubek,  photo: CTK
"I wouldn't say it was especially Jiri Paroubek who didn't like it. I think generally politicians didn't like it, and the reason - from my point of view - is that we had a very satirical, cynical approach to politics, that we generally questioned their motives, we generally talked about politicians saying they are a little bit suspicious. It was a trademark of our show - we were very sceptical, maybe cynical. And that was the reason they didn't like it, because we never talked about positive things."

There's been a lot of speculation in the papers this week about the reasons for Bez Obalu being cancelled. As far as you're concerned, there was no political pressure - do you still maintain that view?

"No I just said that I don't know about any political pressure. What I know positively is that Czech TV cancelled the show, and that's it. You know I can speculate about political motives. I can speculate about anything. But I don't know."

So if the programme was popular and successful, why do you think Czech TV decided to cancel it?

"They said they had two reasons. One of the reasons was economic, that the show was too expensive. I can't say anything about that because I don't know. And the other reason is that the show was unbalanced, that we didn't match the criteria for balanced news coverage. I think the problem was that their analysis was maybe correct, but they applied the criteria they usually have for news. But we weren't news, we were a feature TV show, as I said satirical, sometimes ironic. We were not necessarily balanced because commentaries are never balanced."