Czech TV announcers forced to sign off after 50 years

Czech public TV - today known as Czech Television - started to broadcast in the early 1950s. Ever since those early days continuity announcers have played an important role and have become one of the great Czech TV institutions, their names familiar to millions of households around the country. Standing in front of the camera - with a fixed smile - they accompany the viewer through the day's program. But now after five decades the management of Czech TV has decided that they are an anachronism and wants to follow the trend of most TV channels in Europe and wipe them from the screens.

TV announcer Jiri Ptacnik announcing the program for Wednesday night. From the beginning of next year, his voice and the voices of his colleagues will not be heard in this role anymore. Czech TV management believes that they are redundant and that many viewers switch to a different channel when they come on screen. After an opinion poll commissioned by Czech TV proved that most of the viewers would not miss the announcers, Czech TV management decided to cancel them.

Spokesman Martin Krafl:

"We ordered several polls, and it is clear now that the number of people who considered the TV announcers necessary has dropped, and over 50 percent of viewers, especially the younger audience would not miss them at all. So regarding these reasons we decided to cancel program announcers by the end of this year."

For decades TV announcers were central to the Czech TV image. Not only were they supposed to be attractive to the eye; they also helped to create a sense of wellbeing and intimacy.

Marie Retkova, who's been working for Czech TV for almost 30 years now, is one of the most popular Czech TV personalities. She describes what her job involves.

"We announce the programs, we invite the viewers to watch the program, we wish them a pleasant evening, we tell them about the films - about the film director, about actors, about music programs... We are just a partner of the viewer."

Marie Retkova accepts the management decision. She will not be unemployed. She is already a much demanded radio presenter and given her popularity she will definitely also be involved in other television programs. But she will miss her role as a TV announcer.

"I will miss it for sure. I've been working for the Czech Television since 1977. It's a long time! And I feel I am a part of the television. We, announcers, have been active partners for the viewers and the viewers have felt it. They sent us letters that we were really very close to them. - And we were! - But what can we do?"

Czech TV plans to substitute the TV announcers with trailers which they think will be more dynamic. This will probably be welcomed by most younger viewers; on the other hand it is clear that many of the older generation will be sad to say good bye to their favorite announcers.