Daily news summary


MPs reject Senate proposal on background music copyright fees

MPs have rejected a Senate proposal to ease copyright law by not requiring entities, such as pubs and restaurants, to pay fees to play background music.

The Ministry of Culture, as well as some 1,600 artists, had come out in opposition to the proposal, put forth by Senator Ivo Valenta (unaffiliated).

Opponents argue that it contravenes both Czech and European Union law, and goes against an EU Court of Justice ruling.

Duka: Church to wait for Senate decision on compensation taxation bill

The Roman Catholic Church will wait for a Senate decision on taxing compensation paid out to churches in restitution before making a decision on how to proceed, Cardinal Dominik Duka said after a meeting of the Czech Bishops’ Conference. The head of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic said it would coordinate its response with other churches and the Federation of Jewish Communities.

The Chamber of Deputies last week approved a Communist Party proposal to tax the compensation received by churches in lieu of properties seized under the previous regime.

Cardinal Duka described the vote as a black comedy directed by the Communists, adding that compensation was never taxed. The Senate is regarded as likely to reject the bill.

Ministry: No-deal Brexit would impact Czech GDP growth

The Czech Ministry of Finance says that if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without having reached a deal it would lead to poorer economic results in the Czech Republic. A no-deal Brexit would result in GDP growth of below 2.0 percent this year, between 0.6 and 0.8 percent less than would otherwise have been expected.

The data is contained in a new Ministry of Finance prognosis quoted by the newspaper E15. If the UK exits the EU with a deal the Czech economy should expand by 2.5 percent in 2019, ministry officials believe.

Czech TV comedy miniseries ‘Most!’ breaking viewership records

Episodes of the new Czech TV comedy miniseries “Most!”, set in the bleak northern Bohemian town of that name, have attracted a record average viewership of over 1.5 million.

“Most!” is the sixth joint project of director Jan Prušinovský and screenwriter Petr Kolečko, known for unconventional series such as “Trpaslík” (Gnome).

A spokesperson for the public broadcaster told Czech Radio that while “Trpaslík” was a hit, based on current viewership, “Most!” looks set to become a “phenomenon”.

The word “most” means “bridge” in Czech and the series addresses a number of divisive issues, such as homophobia and racism. Fans of the series appreciate the irreverent dark humour while detractors fear it perpetuates stereotypes.

“Most!” features several Roma characters and also a transgender person. It is filmed on location in the city, a historical coal mining town known for its struggling local industry, high unemployment rate, and great concentration of housing estates built during communism.

Demolition of Prague’s brutalist-style Transgas building to proceed

The demolition of the Transgas building behind the National Museum in Prague will proceed as no formal appeal to save the brutalist-style complex was received.

Conservationists and architects had tried to save the Transgas building by having it declared a cultural heritage site. Others consider it an ugly yet otherwise unremarkable building typical of the late seventies.

Current owner HB Reavis plans to construct a new administrative centre on the site a couple hundred metres from Wenceslas Square, as well as to free up some space for public use.

Budějovický Budvar posts record sales, boosted by premium lagers

Czech state-owned brewery Budějovický Budvar sold more beer in 2018 than in its entire 123-year history, following a 7.3 percent rise in sales to 2.57 billion crowns.

Budvar, which has been in a long legal dispute with U.S. giant Anheuser-Busch over use of the “Budweiser” brand, said output rose 3.6 percent last year to 1.602 million hectoliters. The growth followed a 4-percent decline in 2017, caused by shifting production to a premium brand.

In 2019, the brewery plans to build a third bottling plant. It said its focus on premium lagers is paying off.

ING: Volume of new Czech housing loans spikes

The volume of new Czech housing loans declined in December to the lowest level in two-and-a-half years. The drop was driven by stricter recommendations from the central bank and strong frontloading in the second half of 2018, ING says.

The total volume of housing loans slowed to 23.8 billion crowns in December. Looking at new loans without refinancing, the volume declined to 14.8 billion, the lowest figure since mid-2016.

This development most likely was driven by substantial frontloading of mortgages during June-October last year, before stricter central bank recommendations kicked in. In 2019, the market expects the volume to fall by around 10 percent, according to ING.

‘Ben’ and ‘Betty’ among most common dog names in Prague

The number of dogs registered as pets in the Czech capital grew to 83,297 last year, up by 1,857 compared to 2017 but down from a record high of 100,544 the year before.

According to the Prague authorities, small dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers and Dachshunds are the most popular breeds, followed by Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds.

The most common name for a dog is “Ben”, followed by “Max”, “Betty”, “Bára” and “Nelly”.

Weather outlook

Saturday should be cool and cloudy with scattered showers likely throughout the northern half of the country. Highs should range between 4 – 10 degrees Celsius.