Press Review

All Czech daily newspapers today report that the crash of a military jet aircraft last week was caused by the pilot's hazardous aerobatic manoeuvres which were not part of his mission. The front pages of some of the papers also feature photographs of Czech decathlete Tomas Dvorak who is doing very well at the world athletic championship in Edmonton, Canada.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that the Czech government is ready to subsidise the construction of a Chinese power station. The government were successful in winning a contract with China which will see several Czech industrial companies construct a power station in Shen-Tchou. The contract, however, will materialise only if the Czech Republic lends China the money to finance the project.

A problem arises here as the state-run Czech Export Bank does not have sufficient funds to provide such a large loan, so it will have to borrow from a commercial bank and in turn pay commercial interest rates. It will be the Czech government who will have to burden this higher interest rate payment. LIDOVE NOVINY claims to have obtained a document in which the Ministry of Industry and Trade justifies the costly deal, saying that the project is beneficial for Czech heavy industries. However, it will cost the taxpayers a fortune, the paper concludes bitterly.

PRAVO reports that a new political party, Cesta Zmeny (which roughly translates as 'The road To Change') seems to be doomed before it has even been launched as some of the team of party founders have been unable to reconcile many of their day-to-day differences. Such well-known figures as political scientist and former presidential advisor Jiri Pehe, economist Jan Svejnar, and the former General Director of Czech Radio Vlastimil Jezek have all chosen to leave the party. PRAVO quotes another party representative as saying that the Party want to start addressing the general public in September.

MLADA FRONTA DNES leads with a report that Czech mobile phone operators are threatening to make a hole in state budget by declining to accept the conditions attached to the granting of licences for third-generation or UMTS networks. The government has already included the proceeds from the expected sale of three UMTS licenses of 6.7 billion CZK each into this year's state budget, however the operators are only willing to pay about one third of that amount.

The paper opines that by threatening not to pay the requested amount, the operators are trying to bargain with the government for more beneficial conditions, such as a guarantee of exclusivity.

On a related note, ZEMSKE NOVINY heralds good news for subscribers of both mobile and fixed-line telephones - according to the paper, tariffs are expected to decrease. One of the mobile phone operators, RadioMobil, have failed to make an agreement with the dominant fixed-line operator, Czech Telecom, on prices for interconnection of their networks.

Now, it is up to the market regulator, the Czech Telecommunications Office, to decide on the prices which will have to be observed by all players on the market. ZEMSKE NOVINY writes that these prices are expected to be lower than the current ones, which will inevitably result in lower bills for every consumer.