News Saturday, DECEMBER 23rd, 2000

By Alena Skodova

Battle at Czech TV goes on

Controversy over the appointment of a new director for the Czech public TV network continues. More than 400 Czech TV employees of all professions met on Friday in the building's garages to discuss the current situation at the station, following the recent hasty appointment of Jiri Hodac the station's new director by its supervisory board. Czech TV's crisis committee has declared a so-called "solidarity pact" with the aim to protect its members from being punished for their participation in the protests. The Committee's representatives met with Mr. Hodac on Friday evening to tell him that they considered his appointment "opaque and non-professional" and were not going to respect him. They repeatedly called on Mr. Hodac to step down from his post. Meanwhile, petitions to have Mr. Hodac removed are being signed in Prague, Brno and Ostrava.

Privatization rejected

The Czech Film and Television Union and the National Trade Union of Mass Media Employees have sharply condemned Thursday's statement made by the leader of the Civic Democratic Party Vaclav Klaus, who had said Czech public television network should be privatized. The unions described Klaus's idea as one of the most serious attempts to destabilize the present dual broadcasting system which was one of the pillars of democracy in the Czech Republic.

More problems at Temelin

The first block of the Temelin nuclear power plant was shut down temporarily on Friday morning after an oil leak. This was the latest in a series of minor technical problems that have emerged recently at the plant, which is currently in trial operation prior to being put fully on line next year. The plant's spokesman said that the problem was a minor hitch on the plants secondary circuit and had no influence whatsoever on the nuclear safety of Temelin. Austrian protests against the plant continue. A group of opponents to nuclear power have set up a protest camp on the Czech-Austrian border, some 50 kilometres from the plant, and plan to stay in place for a further week. A spokesman for the Upper Austria region that borders on the Czech Republic said that the problems with Temelin's turbine offer mounting evidence of serious flaws in the design.

The president addresses Constitutional Court over a new law

President Vaclav Havel submitted on Friday a proposal to the Constitutional Court in Brno aimed at removing some paragraphs from an amended law on the Czech National Bank. Havel has described the new legislation as an example of interference in the central bank's independence and said it went counter the Czech constitution. The Lower House passed the law earlier this month after overruling the president's veto. The new law restricts some of the president's powers, such as the right to appoint the bank's governor.

Weekend weather

And finally a look at the weather: it will be a bit warmer over the weekend, with daytime temperatures between minus 5 and zero on Saturday and between minus 2 and plus 2 degrees Celsius on Sunday.