Czech Republic | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

23

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

10

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

7

Czech media are independent, and the government generally respects press freedom. However, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms prohibits threats against individual rights, state and public security, public health, and morality, and libel can be prosecuted as a criminal offense. Primarily because of weak regulatory institutions and heavy influence on the media by political parties and business interests, the media are often seen as being strongly aligned along political lines. The three-year ownership dispute between the government and American-owned Central European Media Enterprise (CME) ended in May, when an international arbitration court ruled that the government pay $359 million in damages to CME for failure to protect the company's controlling investment in the popular television station Nova. Foreign ownership in the press market also continues to be high: German and Swiss companies hold more than 80 percent of daily press outlets. Some press advocates assert that such foreign concentration diminishes the role the media plays as a public watchdog; foreign owners may not want to support investigative journalism vigorously, instead pushing for tabloid journalism that can bring in higher profits. The former secretary-general of the foreign ministry, Karel Srba, was convicted in June for plotting to murder Sabina Slonkova, a popular investigative journalist for the independent daily Mlada Fronta Dnes. Srba had been forced to resign from his post in March 2001 after Slonkova reported stories on the foreign minister's suspicious operation of a hotel in Moscow.