Press Review

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

Some of the topics that have made headlines in today's Czech dailies include the Prague premiere of the new Star Wars film, and there's a young Czech lady decked-out in futuristic regalia on the cover of Lidove noviny. Also dominant: pre-election events and meetings which are gaining in momentum now that election day is just a month away...

Some of the topics that have made headlines in today's Czech dailies include the Prague premiere of the new Star Wars film, and there's a young Czech lady decked-out in futuristic regalia on the cover of Lidove noviny. Also dominant: pre-election events and meetings which are gaining in momentum now that election day is just a month away...

Pravo offers a classic pre-election photo of the opposition Coalition leader Hana Marvanova grilling hot- dogs at a voter cook-out on Thursday, but as the paper notes, the politician doesn't seem to be at ease surrounded by sputtering grease... With polls suggesting that support for the right-of-centre Coalition has been falling, perhaps it was a case of "out of the frying pan, into the fire". Overall though a more serious topic gains more headlines than any other this Friday, and that is the latest controversy at Czech TV.

The controversy involves the station's director Jiri Balvin, who is now under investigation by police on charges of criminal mismanagement and corruption; and the controversy has fueled fires of discontent among some employees at Czech TV and particularly among the independent Czech TV unions. They have suggested Mr Balvin should step down while the investigation is under way. But, after spending 5 hours being questioned by police on Thursday, Mr Balvin said he would do no such thing.

In Friday's Mlada fronta Dnes Jan Smid questions the wisdom of the TV unions' tactics, finding them too revolutionary. Their confrontational tone is too evocative of the protest tactics used during the dramatic crisis at Czech TV in December 2000. Mr Smid writes that that kind of tone could do more to hurt Czech TV than any current controversy surrounding the station's director. The author goes on to suggest that the latest events at Czech TV, including controversial firings and programme changes, have driven the unions to "grasp at straws out of sheer frustration", and that seen in this light, the unions' actions are understandable.

Turning to another daily now. Lidove noviny offers a story on first-time voters in light of up-coming elections in the Czech Republic, and refers to a recent poll that shows that many first-time voters between the ages of 18 and 21 will most likely vote for the Civic Democrats, led by former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. The poll shows that 33% say they would give their voice to Mr Klaus's party, while 19% would support the Civic Democrat's closest rival, the Social Democrats. The Communists registered lower on the list behind the right-of-centre Coalition, at just 6.2 percent among first-time voters, the paper writes.

Finally, staying with Pravo, the newspaper features a story on the Czech anti-chemical army unit in Kuwait. The mission has not been without its share of problems: the unit is in Kuwait to help in the fight against global terrorism, but since arriving three weeks ago, 250 Czech chemical experts have discovered that things haven't been working as they should, and that a great deal of the equipment they brought with them has been malfunctioning in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. The paper quotes one source as saying "the whole mission is about soldiers, who can't be blamed, just learning to get by in the unbearable heat".