Freedom of the Press

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Freedom of the Press 2007

2007 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

18

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

7

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, or morality or that may evoke hatred based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. Libel remains a criminal offense, but prosecutions were rare. The Press Law provides a sound basis for independent journalism, and media protections were bolstered by a 2005 Constitutional Court ruling that journalists do not have to disclose their sources. However, a 2006 wiretapping scandal revealed that police had monitored the telephone conversations of two reporters in order to identify their sources on a story linking civil servants and politicians to organized crime. Media freedom advocates have also warned against recent legislative efforts to restrict the use of hidden cameras.

Press freedom has long been secure in the Czech Republic, but observers have raised concerns over the quality and depth of reporting, as well as weak accountability and increasing cross-ownership of media outlets. The news media are occasionally accused of political or economic bias, and such allegations were renewed in the context of the 2006 parliamentary elections. In February, Tomas Nemecek, a journalist with Czech Radio, was fired after a commentary about the amendment of a church bill. The editor who broadcast this commentary also left the station. Most major media outlets are privately owned, and they are generally able to represent diverse views without fear of government or partisan pressure. Public broadcasters supplement private media and have the confidence of a large majority of society. The internet continues to develop rapidly, with just over 50 percent of the population enjoying regular and unrestricted access.