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Court abolishes fine TV Nova was to pay for its report

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Brno, Feb 7 (CTK) – The commercial TV Nova, the most popular television station in the Czech Republic, will not have to pay 200,000 crowns for its report about what clothes are suitable for church services in a hot summer because the Constitutional Court cancelled the fine imposed on it on Wednesday.

The Council for radio and television broadcasting fined TV Nova for the report broadcast within the main news programme in August 2012, arguing that it was not balanced. TV Nova appealed, but lower level courts upheld the council’s decision.

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday cancelled both the fine and the previous verdicts base on the freedom of speech.

Judge-rapporteur David Uhlir said the freedom of speech protects not only serious statements but also soft news that combine information and entertainment.

Though the journalistic and esthetic value of the TV report may be questionable, it is up to the operator of the media to consider this, Uhlir said.

The report, which appeared during a heat wave, focused on a leaflet in which a priest commented on suitable and unsuitable clothes for church-goers and considered jeans, miniskirts, bare shoulders and deep cleavages improper.

Uhlir said the TV report played down the importance of the issue to a certain extent, but the leaflet concerned was also written in a rather amusing manner.

Within the report, an expert in extremism was addressed and he commented on the activities of the Society of Saint Pius X, a traditionalist Catholic group founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Uhlir said if anybody felt personally offended by the report, they could have officially protested against it, for example by suing the television station for violation of personal rights or demanding a correction of the report of an additional statement to it. Nobody has done any such thing, he said.

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