STATEMENT OF PROFESSIONAL PUBLISHING ASSOCIATIONS ON THE PROPOSED “MAJOR MEDIA AMENDMENT”
Czech publishers represented in professional associations SPIR (Association for Internet Development) and UV (Union of Publishers) demand an expert discussion on the financing of public media and their role alongside commercial media. They criticise the fact that the introduction of the amendment to the acts on Czech Television, Czech Radio, and radio and television fees (the so-called major amendment on public service media) was not preceded by any professional discussion with the media sector and that the proposal skews the balance between commercial and public service news publishers.
First and foremost, we regret to say that such a significant increase in the budget of the public media was not preceded by the necessary discussion, which would have included the professional associations representing the providers of news content. These organisations are in permanent competition with the public service media. We fully appreciate the importance of the public service of ČT (Czech Television) and ČRo (Czech Radio) in the democratic organisation of our country and we do not question the importance of their existence by this statement at all. However, in an information environment that is increasingly moving online, there must also be strong private media to ensure the balance. Unlike public service media, private media are subject to market principles and therefore have to compete for their revenues through competitive mechanisms.
In conjunction with the continuous shift of public service media to the internet and the proposed extension of exemptions from online advertising, which is crucial for media funding, we are concerned that the proposed changes could have a very negative impact on private media, which form an essential part of the media and information scene.
The professional publishing associations have therefore jointly addressed the government representatives with a request to hold an expert discussion on the position and evaluation of all models of possible financing of public service media on the Czech media market before submitting the bill.
In our opinion, the submitted draft Amendment to the Act on Czech Television and Czech Radio and the Act on Radio and Television Fees with its current wording is completely inadequate, has not been discussed with the affected entities and would represent a major disruption of the stability of the entire media sector. We therefore categorically disagree with the proposed amendment and request that it be withdrawn from the legislative process and thoroughly revised.