News Sunday, DECEMBER 24th, 2000

By Daniela Lazarova

Battle over Czech Public Television rages on

The battle over the future of Czech Public Television continues. Czech Television's newly elected director Jiri Hodac is trying to quell a revolt by Prague-based Czech TV workers, most of whom have refused to acknowledge him as their new boss. A crisis team of television employees insists that Hodac was elected as a result of political pressure on the Supervisory Board of Czech Television. They are demanding the resignation of both Hodac and the Supervisory Board and have appealed to the public for moral support.

On Wednesday evening the news-team interrupted the prime time news cast with a message condemning the hiring of the new director and warning the public that the country's sole independent television station was at threat. Since then, a crowd of silent protesters have stood behind the news-readers on every occasion.

Leading cultural figures and media workers have supported the protest by Czech Television employees and several thousand people are said to have signed the protest petition .

In the meantime, both the new director and the Supervisory Board are refusing to resign. Director Jiri Hodac has rejected roumors that preparations were being made to transfer future news-casts to Czech TV's Brno based studios, where he has a team of loyal employees. Instead he made a final appeal for the revolt to end, saying no one would be punished for their part in the protest. However, the crisis team at Czech Television says there are many indications that heads will roll.

Train accident

An accident in which a freight train collided with a passenger train early on Saturday morning has left one person dead. Thirteen passengers were taken to hospital with light injuries. The cause of the accident is still being investigated, but preliminary findings suggest human error is to blame.

Soldiers come home for the holidays

Over one hundred Czech soldiers from the Czech contingent serving in SFOR in Kosovo have come home to their families for Xmas. Prayers will be said for those who remain at their posts and according to the CTK news agency a load of Xmas food is on its way to them. Letters from home, carp, potato salad and home made cookies are to help alleviate the Xmas blues on a mission far from home.

Record Xmas sales this year

Meanwhile, here in the Czech Republic, preparations for Xmas, which is celebrated on December 24th, that is on the eve of Xmas day, have come to a head. The CTK news agency reports on record sales – the highest in the past decade. The average amount of money spent on Xmas presents this year is reported to be an unprecedented 5,000 crowns per head.

And finally a look at the weather:

A slight warming is expected on Sunday which has definitely dashed hopes of a white Xmas here in the Czech Republic . It looks far more like we are in for a "smoggy" Xmas, with morning fog, overcast skies, and day temperatures between two and minus two degs C. Night temperatures are expected to drop to 7 degs below O.