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Czech politicians reject Okamura’s call for state-run ČRo, ČT

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Prague, Oct 24 (CTK) – Political leaders of several Czech parties on Tuesday rejected the opinion of Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura that the public Czech Television (CT) and Czech Radio (CRo) should be turned into state institutions so that their financing can be more supervised.

Okamura said in an interview that CRo broadcast on Monday that CT and CRo should not be public corporations but state-controlled media. He said the SPD wanted to drop the monthly fees paid by spectators owning TV sets and radio receivers and nationalise the media to get them under a clear supervision of the Supreme Audit Office (NKU).

Okamura said the financing of the public media is non-transparent. “The use of finances really calls for a thorough audit. Yes, Czech Radio has big problems and if we sit in the government, we will focus on CT and CRo,” he said.

The populist SPD won 22 seats in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies in the weekend election from which the ANO movement of Andrej Babis emerged as the clear leader.

Babis said the party held no such intention. “There has been a clear system and we do not want to change anything,” he said.

“The management of the Czech Radio has always been transparent,” CRo director Rene Zavoral wrote in a statement for CTK on Tuesday.

The nationalisation of CRo and CT would be trampling on the liberty of speech, impairment of objective and true flow of information towards the public, Zavoral said.

All CRo financial reports were approved by parliament and the CRo has never hindered any NKU check.

CT director Petr Dvorak said public media were strong, independent and by no means served political or economic goals. “They often seem to be the target of similar attacks because of this and it is necessary to resolutely reject such attacks again and again,” Dvorak said.

Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy chairman Jan Bartosek said on Twitter that Okamura’s proposal for the nationalisation of public media is an attack on democracy in the Czech Republic.

Right-wing TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek also said such a change would liquidate full-fledged democracy in the country.

The Pirates, who entered parliament for the first time last weekend, said Okamura’s statements are dangerous. “Any censorship is unacceptable,” the party tweeted.

However, the Pirates do not want spectators to pay any regular fees for public media.

The Communists (KSCM) would like to scrap these fees, too, their leader Vojtech Filip said.

Filip said he was against the nationalisation of the public media, but he said CRo and CT should be paid from the state budget.

President Milos Zeman has been calling for the abolition of licence fees paid by owners of TV sets for a long time. Zeman also repeatedly claimed that CT reporting is biased.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek on Tuesday repeated that the president was against the licence fees.

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