Hungarian Government statement

In the Czech Republic all 15 members of the Czech Television Council (which has similar functions to the Curatorium) are elected by the House of Representatives based on the nominations of NGOs, for a term of 6 years.45

country experts

Milan Šmíd (PhD) is an assistant professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at Charles University in Prague. He has authored numerous studies on the transformation of the electronic media in the Czech Republic and on European media policy. Prior to 1990, he worked for the former Czechoslovak Television, Department of Foreign Programs. In 1990 to 1991 he was a member of an expert group involved in drafting the country's Broadcasting Law. He has written a number of studies on broadcasting legislation commissioned by the Czech Parliament, and has participated as a country expert in several international research projects on European media developments and policy, including "Media Ownership and Its Impact on Media Independence an Pluralism" (Ljubljana 2004), a European Commission study on "Co-Regulation Measures in the Media Sector" (Hans Bredow Institut 2005), and European Media Governance, (Intellect Book 2008). Milan Šmíd regularly comments on media and on media policy at the webpage:


Expert assessment: appointing directors of public media

The statement is accurate—and it also refers to one of the most controversial issues within the public service media system in the Czech Republic. The politicisation of appointments to the Czech Television Council (CTC) was in fact what fueled the so-called "Czech TV crisis" of 2001.46 The appointment system as cited above was the result of the legislative changes implemented in the wake of this crisis. Whereas under the previous rules the lower house of Parliament nominated and appointed all members of the CTC, the current system requires the involvement of NGOs in this process. Unfortunately, despite the new rules party-friendly nominees still have a better chance to be elected than truly independent representatives. Hence, there is still potential for politicians to influence public service media through appointments to the CTC.

It should be noted, however, that the CTC is not responsible for the entire public broadcasting sector but only public service TV; the Czech Radio Council (CRC) supervises radio and the Czech News Agency Council supervises the Czech News Agency (CTK). Furthermore, the CTC is not a regulatory body but rather it provides a "supervisory" role over Czech public TV. The CTC however has a good deal of control over budgetary and personnel decisions, including the power to appoint and dismiss the general director of Czech public TV, which has sparked numerous controversies over the years.47 Although the CTC has no formal role in editorial and programming content decisions, it can still indirectly control these areas via appointments to general director positions and by other informal means.

As noted, the former appointment procedures gave one house of Parliament the power to nominate and elect all nine members of the CTC.48 This led to the increasing politicisation of the CTC over the years, which reached a crisis point in 2001. Much of this had to do with the CTC's power to appoint and dismiss the general director of the Czech public television. Following a six-year period of managerial stability from 1992 to 1998, Czech Television experienced a number of turbulent years during which five general directors were appointed and dismissed in as many years. Some were dismissed because of their poor managerial performance, but at least two were removed for political reasons.49

Under these amendments which took effect in January 2001, the CTC was enlarged from nine to 15 members and the procedure of nominating the candidate was "outsourced" from Parliament to civic organisations. Any NGO or other such group that is registered and active in public life has a right to respond to a call for nominees, which is usually made by the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies (lower house of Parliament) several weeks before the election of council members is scheduled to take place.50 The nominees are then elected by a committee in the lower Chamber of Deputies, which is composed of members based on the proportional representation of parties in Parliament. This committee prepares for the plenary session a shortlist with three times as many candidates who are to be elected.

Although the new system has deprived political parties of direct nomination of the candidates for membership to Czech Television or Czech Radio councils, parties still try to exert their influence when composing the list for the parliamentary vote. Candidates placed on the top of the list have a better chance of being elected, because voting for candidates usually proceeds one at a time and is concluded once seats are filled. This ad hoc and largely unfair procedure was introduced in 2001 and was abandoned due to public criticism by new parliament elected in 2010. Since then, some by-elections of the CTC or CRC members have been organised as a secret vote.

The present system for appointing members to the TV, radio and news agency councils—in which all members are approved by only one chamber of Parliament—have failed to provide effective safeguards against political influence. Because they can be dismissed by the respective councils, the general directors of public service media tend to avoid critical coverage of politicians, who could in turn exert pressure on council members to remove the general director. Although since 2001 political parties have tended to use restraint in appointing the general directors to public media bodies, there is still a possibility that the appointment or dismissal of the general directors could be politically motivated.51

45 See "Criticism 9" in "Criticisms and answers formulated on the subject of the proposed media act examined in a European context," Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, December 20, 2010 available at:
46 See a summary of this crisis in the BBC, "Politicians struggle to resolve TV crisis," 2 January, 2001,
47 The CTC's scope and authority are outlined in Articles 4 to 8 of the Act on Czech Television (Law No. 483/1991 Coll., as amended), available in English at:
48 Act on Czech Television (Law No. 483/1991 Coll., as amended), available in English at:
49 For details about the Czech TV crisis see the chapter on the Czech Republic in Television Across Europe: regulation, policy and independence. EU Monitoring And Advocacy Program (EUMAP) Open Society Institute 2005.
50 Rules for selection and election of nominated candidates are described in Article 46a of Parliamentary Law No. 90/1995 Coll.: "(1) For election of members of the Czech Television Council and the Czech Radio Council the Chamber of Deputies establishes the Electoral Committee, whose members are elected by members of parliament under the principle of proportional representation." Available only in Czech:
51 Recommendations for strengthening the independence of Czech public broadcasters were provided in the Television across Europe report by the Open Society Institute have not been implemented, despite promises to do so by some political parties (TOP-09, Greens) before elections in June 2010.