Press Review

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It's trouble at the country's TV stations that's making the front pages today, along with the release from prison of Milan Srejber, the former tennis player-turned businessman at the centre of the Civic Democrat funding scandal five years ago. And dodgy dealings at one the world's biggest telecoms companies - WorldCom - are mentioned on all the front pages.

It's trouble at the country's TV stations that's making the front pages today, along with the release from prison of Milan Srejber, the former tennis player-turned businessman at the centre of the Civic Democrat funding scandal five years ago. And dodgy dealings at one the world's biggest telecoms companies - WorldCom - are mentioned on all the front pages.

But we start with TV, and the country's most successful commercial station, TV Nova, is in trouble - deep trouble, says Mlada fronta Dnes. Nova - currently at the centre of a bitter power struggle between the station's owners - has lost practically all of its advertising revenue. The ABN Amro bank, which loaned Nova around 500 million crowns, has ordered advertisers to pay them - not the TV station - so Amro can recover the bad debt.

Nova lives on advertising, says Mlada fronta Dnes. The station receives between four and five billion crowns from advertising each year. Deprived of that revenue, it will collapse within weeks. There is only one option left open to the station's feuding management, says the paper - take out a new loan, from a different bank. But which one?

Meanwhile in Lidove noviny, and things aren't much better at the country's public television network, Czech Television. The station might not be in financial crisis, but employees are outraged following the discovery of a hidden TV camera in one of the editing suites. Director General Jiri Balvin told the paper that the camera was installed to detect employees doing private work on the side with Czech TV equipment, but union leaders say that covert spying is a clear violation of employee rights.

Pravo reports today that the mysterious disappearance of a Bavarian mayor three months ago has been solved - and it's not a happy ending. The body of Erich Kunder - mayor of the town of Rockingen - was discovered buried in woods near the town of Cheb on Wednesday evening. A police source told the paper that two men arrested on Tuesday had led police to the mayor's unmarked grave. The two have been charged with murder.

It's a sorry tale of murder, politics and deceit, says Pravo. Mr Kunder told colleagues he was going to the Czech Republic on official business. He was actually heading for the town of Cheb - notorious for its sex clubs. After meeting a prostitute, he was enticed back to the woman's flat, where the two men beat him unconscious with a pickaxe handle, strangled him, and stole his credit cards and silver Mercedes. The mayor, says Pravo, was a close friend of Bavarian Interior Minister Guenter Beckstein, who's been trying - unsuccessfully it seems - to keep the story out of the papers.

And finally back to Mlada fronta Dnes, and in the wake of Monday's multiple tram crash in Prague, the paper says too much overtime is posing a direct threat to safety. The driver whose tram crashed into the back of another on Monday morning was on his third consecutive 12-hour day shift, says Mlada fronta Dnes. Antonin Dub, head of the Federation of Tram Drivers, believes the exhausted driver simply fell asleep in charge of his vehicle.

"Three 12-hour shifts, one after the other, is simply exhausting. The thing is, tram drivers are poorly paid, and have to do overtime," says Mr Dub. Meanwhile, the head of the Railway Workers' Union says he can't believe the person who put together the fateful shift hasn't been sacked.