Czech Republic | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

22

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

9

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

7

The press is generally free and independent. Freedom of the press is constitutionally guaranteed, although exceptions do exist. The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms prohibits speech that would impede national security, individual rights, public health, and morality. The law also bans publishing information that evokes hatred based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. In January, the Prague Municipal Court reimposed a three-year sentence on Michal Zitko for publishing an edition of Hitler's Mein Kampf because of concerns that the book might encourage the rise of a neo-Nazi movement. Libel remains a criminal offense, and journalists face prison terms if convicted. In January 2004, the Prague City Court ordered the weekly Respekt to apologize to the interior minister for writing about his telephone conversations with the owner of a Prague brothel. In an unrelated incident, two unidentified men attacked the editor in chief of the same paper. It is suspected that the attack was somehow related to the corruption investigations conducted by the paper.

The private media are active, represent diverse views, and are largely independent of government or partisan pressure. Commercial pressures, however, remain strong. In January, the general director of Czech TV apologized to one of the station's major advertisers for a three-year-old critical news story. Foreign ownership in the press market remains high: German and Swiss companies hold more than 80 percent of daily press outlets. Some nongovernmental organizations suggest that such a high concentration of the media in the hands of foreign owners could lead to an increase of low-quality tabloid journalism that traditionally appeals to commercial interests. The government does not impose any restrictions on access to the Internet.