News Thursday, JANUARY 06th, 2000

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Nick Carey and this is the news. First, a look at the headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail:

Cabinet approves revised broadcasting law

The cabinet approved the latest revision of the broadcasting law on Wednesday that, if passed by parliament, will bring the Czech Republic's broadcasting legislation more in line with the EU. The new version lists procedures for handing out television and radio broadcasting licenses, and should make ownership relations within the media more transparent. In connection with the European Union's guidelines, the latest version of the law contains a complete ban on programmes that promote racial, sexual and religious hatred, and a clause that will protect children from seeing pornography on television, as programmes of an erotic nature will only be broadcast after ten o'clock at night.

Republican Party wants pardon for member charged with slander

The extreme-right Republican Party wants to ask President Vaclav Havel to pardon one its members, who was charged last week with racial and religious slander. The suspect apparently hung pictures of leading Czech politicians on the party's notice board in the main railway station in the North Bohemian town of Decin with a sign saying "Jewish masons and killers of the nation". Underneath the pictures there was another sign saying "The aim of these Jews is the destruction of the state and the liquidation of the nation". The Republican Party wants to make its request on the basis that the president pardoned a Roma woman for calling Czechs, amongst other things, Czech swine, during a television interview. The president pardoned the woman because he said the TV station that had interviewed the woman, TV Nova, had misused the emotionally charged situation surrounding the construction of the Maticni Street wall in Usti nad Labem in October.

Civic Democrats tight-lipped on cabinet changes

The leaders of the opposition Civic Democrats, who currently keep the ruling Social Democrats in power via an agreement called the opposition pact, are refusing to divulge which ministers they want to see removed from the cabinet. The two parties are due to meet on Friday to discuss which heads will roll in a cabinet reshuffle. Social Democrat Vice Chairman Zdenek Skromach said that his party cannot be dictated on who to remove from the cabinet, but of course will listen to the Civic Democrats' opinions on the matter. Skromach said that both parties have a list of ministers who may go, and if they match up, then the choices will be obvious. Although neither party will provide any names, unofficial sources say that Justice Minister Otakar Motejl and Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy are likely to lose their places in the government.

Cabinet approves law for protecting employees of bankrupt companies

The cabinet approved a law on Wednesday which, if passed in parliament, will protect the employees of bankrupt companies. The law would ensure that employees would be able obtain at least a portion of their salaries from the state if the companies they work for are unable to pay them. The new law would enable employees to demand their salaries at any labour office around the country. Any request would be fulfilled within three months, and the maximum amount that could be applied for is one and half times the national average salary.

Havel believes Croatia can now move to the West

Following the general elections in Croatia on Monday, which were won by a centre-left coalition block, President Vaclav Havel has stated that he believes that this will enable the country to move closer to the West. The president praised the election campaigns and the running of the elections, and said that the new Croat government will be able to use its democratic potential to make up the ground the country has lost in the past few years. The president said that because of the Czech Republic's and Croatia's contacts, mutual friendly relations, shared historical experiences and shared fate, he has great hopes for the country's future in Europe.

First damages for forced labour should be paid at the end of the year

According to the chairman of the association of freed political prisoners, Oldrich Stransky, Czech victims of forced labour during the Second World War will not receive the financial compensation that they are due from German companies before the end of this year. Although a framework agreement was concluded at the end of last year for the payment of damages, agreement is yet to be reached on the criteria for compensation, which will decide how much money individual victims will receive. This will not be an easy process, Stransky said. The German companies involved have to create a foundation, which will have power of attorney over the money, and the Czech side, according to the Foreign Ministry, would also welcome a more detailed list of those forced to work in Germany during the war.

And finally the weather.

Temperatures tonight should range between minus two and minus six degrees centigrade. The weather on Friday should be quite unpleasant, with foggy skies and freezing showers likely in places. Temperatures during the day should range between zero and three degrees centigrade. And that was the news.