News Sunday, JANUARY 07th, 2001

By: Libor Kubik

House suggests resignation of TV boss

After 15 hours of discussion long into the night, the Czech Parliament has suggested that the embattled director of Czech Public Television resign. If Mr Jiri Hodac doesn't leave voluntarily, Parliament called upon the television's governing board to fire him on Monday. The resolution said Mr Hodac's departure was essential to resolving the two-week- old crisis that has surrounded the public broadcaster. The dispute started when 53-year-old Hodac was hired on December 20. Striking employees, including journalists, who have occupied broadcast offices, claimed the new director was subject to political influence. Rival newscasts have publicised the spat and sparked massive street demonstrations. Parliament plans to consider a new media law on January 12 to further address underlying problems that led to the crisis.

Hodac not to make statement, TV steering council defiant

A hospital spokesperson said Mr Hodac would not react to the parliamentary decision as he had been ordered to stay in bed, undergo a series of medical checks and not to receive any visitors other than his family members and officials of his management team. No one from Mr Hodac's team has offered his resugnation thus far. And the politically-divided steering body, the Czech Television Council said not all its members are prepared to accept the parliamentary calls on Mr Hodac to step down.

Church ends holy year

The Roman Catholic Church here in the Czech Republic has closed its jubilee year 2000 by solemnly celebrating the festivity of the Epiphany, the day Jesus manifested himself to the three Magi kings. The Czech Bishops' Conference spokesman Daniel Herman has described the start of 2001 as a significant spiritual moment. He said one of the key events of the 2000th jubilee of Christianity was the Catholic Church's candid effort to review its stance of the Czech religious reformer John Huss, who was burned at the stake as a heretic after the Council of Constance in 1415.

Underground rock legend dead

The legendary Czech underground rocker, Milan Hlavsa, has died in Prague of cancer at the age of 49. Hlavsa was a founding member and bass player of the anti-establishmentarian rock group, The Plastic People of the Universe, which was fiercely opposed to Communist rule in the former Czechoslovakia. Banned from public appearances in their country during the 1970s and 80s, The Plastic People released four albums in the West. Mr Hlavsa accompanied President Vaclav Havel on his visit to the United States in 1998, during which they met in the White House with President Bill Clinton and performed with the Velvet Underground's founder, Lou Reed.

Czech doctors accused of spreading drugs

Police in the West Bohemian city of Plzen have accused six local doctors of giving drugs to known addicts. The police said the accused, aged between 54 and 64, prescribed dangerous drugs last year to several people although they knew they were addicts. All the six doctors were employees of an emergency ward. The police said they had evidence that none of the patients actually needed drugs to cure their complaints.

Five young Czechs killed in car crash

Five young Czechs aged between 19 and 26 were killed in a car crash on Saturday morning near the West Bohemian town of Cheb. The local fire department said an Opel Vectra with six people on board collided with a truck while evidently speeding in poor visibility conditions. Two women and three men were reported to have died immediately. Police did not rule out a case of drunken driving.

Tennis: Czech beat Dane at Indian Open

Tennis -- and in the semifinals of the Indian Open championships in the Indian city of Madras, the Czech Republic's Michal Tabara on Saturday beat Kristian Pless of Denmark four-love.

Czech weather report

And finally, a look at the weather in the Czech Republic. Sunday will be a wet day here in the Czech Republic, with frequent showers and snowing spells at higher elevations. Early morning lows between freezing point and four degrees Celsius above zero, afternoon highs between three and seven degrees. Skiing conditions will be very poor this week. Monday will be a cloudy day with frequent drizzling showers. Nighttime lows aroud zero Celsius, daytime highs between two and six degrees above freezing.