Press Review

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All the Czech newspapers today devote front page coverage to a ruling issued by the International Arbitrary Tribunal in Amsterdam, which decided on Tuesday that Vladimir Zelezny, the director of the most successful private TV network in the Czech Republic, TV Nova, must return 23 million US dollars to the American company CME. CME invested heavily in NOVA in 1994, to help it kick off broadcasting, but the CME and Zelezny have been involved in a bitter ownership dispute over Nova since 1999.

But as MLADA FRONTA DNES reports, Vladmir Zelezny has not paid a single penny, and CME has called on the Czech authorities to confiscate all Zelezny's property. Although Mr Zelezny's spokesman told the paper that TV Nova was still waiting for the official documents from Amsterdam, CME insists the ruling has already been in force, and the company would be asking for a penalty of 3,200 dollars for each day of delay.

LIDOVE NOVINY tells readers about a bill approved by the government on Wednesday, which - if passed by parliament - would prevent MPs and Senators from receiving money for their activities in supervisory and administrative boards of various companies. And they earn a tidy sum from such activities - amounting to 10s of 1000s crowns per month. "These people defend public interests in their present posts, and get paid for doing so. It wouldn't be correct if they were paid for a different activity again," vice-premier Vladimir Spidla explained to LIDOVE NOVINY.

"Czech women quietly accept discrimination," reads a headline in ZEMSKE NOVINY. The paper writes that women find themselves at an immediate disadvantage as soon as they apply for a job. At the interview potential employers always ask if they have or will have children, and who will care for them when they are sick. It often happens that the general manager tells women: "I'm sorry but you're a woman, and I have two men applying for the job."

This is obviously discrimination, claims ZEMSKE NOVINY: in Western Europe and North America such treatment of would-be employees would be punishable by law. In the Czech Republic such behaviour goes counter to the law, too. But Czech women do not file lawsuits against employers, neither do they demand financial compensation. They have simply got used to such treatment, concludes the paper.

And finally, PRAVO reports on Wednesday's celebrations of St Valentine's Day in the Czech Republic. The paper writes that for most Czechs, St Valentine's Day is an imported holiday. While on International Women's Day, which was celebrated on the 8th of March during the Communist era, every woman was given flowers, this has not become a rule on St. Valentine's Day. Despite this, florists and sweet shops - and also underwear and "shops selling erotic products" as the paper puts it - praise the holiday for exceptionally high sales on that day, concludes PRAVO.