Press Review

Czechs are very conservative when it comes to shopping and they have begun discovering traditional homemade products. This and more in a review of today's Czech papers with Libor Kubik.

ZEMSKE NOVINY says that the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing, in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force, is offering free used planes to replace the Czech Republic's ageing fleet of Soviet-era supersonic jet fighters. The Czech Air Force would receive several F-15s, free of charge, from American reserves. But there could be a snag, the paper warns. The F-15s in question, models A and B, need to be fitted with upgraded avionics and weapons systems to meet NATO's current standards. This would cost between 12 and 15 million dollars apiece. But on the other hand, the twenty-four F-15s on offer would be a more than adequate replacement for 36 hopelessly obsolete MiG-21s which the Czech Air Force will have to phase out in the next two years. Boeing is also offering brand new F-18s. Lockheed Martin wants to sell us their F-16s, and also in the game is the French Mirage 2000 and the Anglo-Swedish Gripen. The Czech government is to decide by the end of this month whether to call an international tender, and if so, when.

Czechs are rediscovering traditional products and labels, today's LIDOVE NOVINY reports. Their romance with fascinating Western imports seems to be over and many people simply prefer to buy tried and proven Czech goods. Czechs are conservative people, the paper notes. Domestic brands such as Fluora toothpaste, Tatramat automatic washing machines, Start cigarettes, Prim watches, Pitralon aftershave and other products from the communist era are selling like hot cakes. Paradoxically, this is happening in spite of massive advertising campaigns promoting trendy Western goods. A public poll conducted last year by a Prague polling agency reveals that over 70 percent of Czech buyers prefer traditional brands manufactured locally. "People want products they have grown up with. Roll over, Mars Bars, here comes the good old Tatranka wafer with exactly the same nutty flavour as 40 years ago. Coke is good, but Kofola tastes much better, Czechs say. Kofola was an early socialist attempt at a cola-type soft drink. It disappeared from supermarket shelves in the late 1980s, but now this brand is staging a massive comeback, LIDOVE NOVINY reports.

Czech children have returned to their classrooms after two months of summer holidays--but teachers are leaving their poorly paid jobs en masse, notes MLADA FRONTA DNES. Kids at Borova Lada in the Sumava Mountains will no longer see their favourite teacher. Twenty-nine-year-old Daniel Brych has been making a living these past two months felling trees in the Orlicke Mountains. The meagre wages he earned as a teacher would not be sufficient today to feed his family and the dogs he breeds.

PRAVO has been watching marketing inspectors at work over the past few days. From Friday to Monday, the paper says, they confiscated thousands of counterfeit pairs of purportedly brand-name shoes, T-shirts and other textile goods sold at open-air marketplaces in several border regions of the Czech Republic. At one market alone, an inspector from Karlovy Vary told PRAVO, his men seized millions of crowns' worth of footwear and sportswear of poor quality, but with Adidas and Nike labels sewn onto this evidently smuggled merchandise. These counterfeit goods are sold mainly by Vietnamese vendors and as a rule, customers have nothing against fake clothing as long as the price is good. A youthful shopper admitted he knew he was buying a counterfeit pair of Adidas sneakers. So what, the man shrugged, these shoes will serve me as well as a brand-name product, and I paid a fraction of what I'd have to for the real thing.

Author: Libor Kubík
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