Commercial Media Outlets Criticize Proposed “Media Novel” Bill in Czech Republic

The Czech Ministry of Culture’s proposed “media novel” bill, currently in the public consultation phase, has come under heavy fire from representatives of commercial media outlets who claim it would have a detrimental impact on the media market in the country. The bill aims to increase concession fees for public service media while expanding the range of individuals and entities required to pay them. Commercial media publishers are vehemently opposing the bill and are urging Culture Minister Martin Baxa (ODS) to withdraw the proposal.

Marek Singer, the CEO of FTV Prima, stated, “This novel will affect all commercial media in this country. Some more, some less, but all will feel it. It will have a very negative impact on the entire media market in the Czech Republic.” Singer’s concern is shared by representatives of other commercial television and radio stations who worry that the increased budget for public service media would harm their operations.

According to Daniel Grunt, the CEO of TV Nova, the proposal could destabilize the entire audiovisual market. He argues that increasing the budget for public service media would hinder production capacity in the market and lead to higher prices for production activities for commercial entities. Singer expressed frustration over the lack of clarity in the proposed bill, which gives public service media a significant budget increase without specifying its purpose. He called this a “blank check” scenario and criticized it as a misunderstanding of market dynamics or an expression of absolute power arrogance.

Furthermore, commercial media publishers object to a provision in the bill that would require all mobile phone owners to pay concession fees, which they consider a hidden tax on mobile phones. They also oppose public service media’s continued use of advertising and sponsorship. They have not ruled out taking their concerns directly to Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS).

Jiří Hrabák, CEO of Radio Impuls and Chairman of the Association of Private Broadcasting Operators (APSV), highlighted the disparity in audience share between public and commercial radio, emphasizing the need to reopen discussions on the role of public service media. He questioned the sudden change in stance by Minister Baxa, who had previously rejected an increase in concession fees but is now advocating for it without clear explanation.

The Ministry of Culture, represented by spokeswoman Jana Malíková, welcomes discussions and interdepartmental consultations regarding the proposed changes. Malíková defended the bill by stating that it addresses the decline in the value of fees over time, almost halving in value. This debate underscores the ongoing tension between public and commercial media outlets in the Czech Republic, with the private sector arguing that public television competes with them in areas such as detective series and sports broadcasts.

Article by Prague Forum

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