European Parliament debates media freedom in Czech Republic

The European Parliament debated the risks of political abuse of the Czech media on Thursday. The plenary debate was held in reaction to a leaked audio recording, in which the leader of the coalition ANO party, former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, spoke to a journalist about media coverage that would damage his political rivals. Most MEPs noted that while there did not appear to be any fundamental threat to press freedom in the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis’ potential victory in the elections could create a serious problem. MEP Jan Zahradil of the Civic Democratic Party said the problem concerned a single politician and the answer would be to beat him in the elections. There was no formal conclusion to the debate.