Press Review

Not surprisingly there are more reactions in today's papers concerning the political clash between Austria's far-right politician Joerg Haider and Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who have been at each other's throats for more than a week over Haider's anti-Temelin petition. Milos Zeman's outspoken remarks addressed at the controversial Austrian politician have come in for criticism at home as well as in Austria: Lidove noviny writes that a new poll suggests 62% of Czechs believe Mr Zeman went too far by criticising Haider in public.

That does not mean that most Czechs sympathise with Joerg Haider, only that most think Mr Zeman should not have swept up such a storm: Lidove noviny points out that Czechs fear a worsening of Czech-Austrian political relations. On the other hand, the vast majority do not believe that Haider's petition will have any effect on the Czech Republic's accession to the EU, the paper writes.

Like something out of a spy thriller is how Mlada fronta Dnes describes the latest plan by public broadcaster Czech TV to catch those who decline to pay their monthly television service charge. Every household with a television in the Czech Republic is required by law to pay a monthly service fee of seventy-five crowns, but the daily writes that as many as 600 000 households in the country watch TV illegally. For Czech TV that amounts to around 2 million clandestine viewers, and hundreds of millions of crowns lost in unpaid fees.

So, what's the plan? To send out a legion of unmarked cars with hidden receivers capable of picking up and recording individual TV signals, as a matter of recording proof against households that refuse to pay. All this in an effort to bring offenders to court. But will the plan work, and will Czech TV really go to all the effort of bringing offenders to justice? Or will the plan rather be used as a deterrent...Only time will tell. In any case, Mlada fronta Dnes columnist Jan Smid supports the plan, saying it is better for Czech TV to clamp down on those who refuse to pay, than to raise the monthly service charge for the rest of us.

Moving on now, an interesting story on part-time work is featured in Hospodarske noviny: according to the paper, part-timing is a practice which has not caught on in the Czech Republic. The daily compares the Netherlands, where 37 % of the workforce works part time, to the Czech Republic, where only 5.1 % does so, which is the same as Greece.

But the trend may be changing, Hospodarske noviny indicates, describing the practices of the Austrian Erste Bank which seem to have influenced Ceska Sporitelna. The paper writes that the Czech bank is planning to lay-off twelve-hundred employees this year, and says the wave of lay-offs would be even higher if many Sporitelna employees had not transferred to part-time. The daily quotes spokesperson Klara Gajduskova as saying the bank hopes to transfer as much as 30 % of its staff to part-time jobs.

But just how will Czechs react if this trend expands throughout the work sector? The paper quotes an official at the Employment Ministry as saying the possibility of part-time work will really only become appealing if rising Czech salaries come to significantly outweigh the cost of the standard of living.

And finally, if you have seen this man contact the police... Pravo, as most of the Czech dailies today, features a new sketched portrait of a man believed to have killed a female worker in a jewellery shop in Pilsen last Saturday, then shot a man on the street who tried to prevent his escape.

A dire event, no question. The paper writes that the new identity kit was made possible thanks to a witness who came forward to help police. Lidove noviny says in its own article that the motive for the attack on the jewellery store worker is currently unknown, but that no items were taken from the store.