COMMERCIAL TV COMPANIES DEMAND WITHDRAWAL OF MAJOR MEDIA AMENDMENT
The commercial television groups Nova, Prima and Óčko show their displeasure with not being invited to discuss the proposal to increase the fees for ČT (Czech Television).
The commercial television groups that are members of the Association of Commercial Television (AKTV) are demanding the immediate withdrawal of the draft of the major media amendment. It includes, among other things, a proposal to increase the TV and radio fees for Czech Television (to CZK 160) and Czech Radio (to CZK 55), and a new definition of the payer. AKTV finds the proposal “inadequate, not discussed with the entities concerned and fundamentally undermining the stability of the media sector”.
“We therefore categorically disagree with the proposed amendment and demand that it be withdrawn from the legislative process and thoroughly revised,”
says AKTV President, Klára Brachtlová.
According to its statement, AKTV was not informed of the text of the proposed amendment, nor was it invited to discuss it. AKTV includes the Nova, Prima and Óčko TV groups. The first two have major shares of the TV advertising market.
AKTV also stated that it has been in intensive contact with representatives of the Ministry of Culture this year as a member of the advisory group on the transformation of the State Cinematography Fund and the related amendment to the Audiovisual Act. The announcement by the Ministry of Culture that the intended increase in funding for Czech Television should be seen as a topic related to the transformation of the Fund came as a surprise to AKTV. According to AKTV, during the several months of work of the advisory group, there was not a single mention of any link between this topic and the financing of public media.
“The submitted draft amendment to the Act on Czech Television and Czech Radio and the Act on Radio and Television Fees primarily aims to increase revenues from licence fees by increasing the fees and expanding the number of payers, while the source of Czech Television’s funding from advertising, sponsorship and other commercial communication is maintained in full. In the current economic situation, we consider it to be completely wrong to start dealing with an increase in fee funding without defining and knowing exactly what the increased funds in Czech Television’s budget are needed for and in what amount. We strongly prefer discussing the role of the public service media and the content of the public service as the first step in the process. Only then will it be possible to determine the cost of the public service and set a budget to fulfil the role effectively,” said AKTV President.
AKTV would support an increase in ČT’s budget if the expert discussion shows its necessity. The current draft media amendment would have a destructive effect on the balance of the Czech media environment, media pluralism and, last but not least, would very likely constitute an illegitimate interference in competition, according to AKTV.
Czech Culture Minister Martin Baxa (ODS) said during the publication of the draft amendment that the governing coalition wants to ensure the stability of public service media. He argued that the amount of fees had not changed in 15 or 18 years and that commodity prices had risen by tens of percent in that time. Thus, the Minister said the proposed fee increases would not exceed the rate of inflation over that period.