Czech Republic | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

20

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

8

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

7

Freedom of the press is constitutionally guaranteed, though the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms prohibits speech that might infringe on national security, individual rights, public health, and morality. The law also bans publishing information that evokes hatred based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. Libel remains a criminal offense, and journalists can face prison terms if convicted. In addition, an amendment tightens restrictions on the use of a hidden camera. Investigative journalism received a boost in 2005 with a Constitutional Court ruling that journalists do not have to disclose their sources; this constitutes a considerable strengthening of provisions of the 2000 Press Law.

No major media are state owned, and private media are able to represent diverse views and are largely independent of government or partisan pressure. The dynamic electronic media sector has seen both new TV programs and online publications, as well as increased quality and balance in media reporting. Allegations of pressure from both business and political interests were raised in 2005, and media advocates most frequently point to problems of journalistic standards and a tendency to sensationalize. Commercial pressures have not disappeared entirely, and media scholars believe that journalists have shied away from important stories that place top advertisers in a poor light. Examples include the lack of criticism of Czech Telecom's monopolistic practices and several cases where TV stations neglected to report stories perceived to undermine the financial interests of their parent companies. The canceling of "Bez Obalu," one of the best-rated public affairs programs, stood out as a possible attempt by government authorities to influence the content of state-owned media. While explained as a cost-cutting measure, the removal of this program came after public statements by a politician questioned the objectivity of the program. The internet continues to develop rapidly, with almost 50 percent of the population able to afford access, and the government does not restrict access in any manner.