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Prague – Even today, the Chamber of Deputies did not finish the final debate on the controversial changes in the selection of councilors for Czech Television (ČT) and Czech Radio (ČRo), and did not come to a vote on the government proposal. The parliamentary discussion lasted about four hours, a little less time than in the first act of approval two weeks ago. It ended with a break requested by the SPD club. Today, the coalition lawmakers objected again to the opposition's accusations of efforts to control a pair of public media and the June election of the general director of CT. Jan Jakob, the chairman of TOP 09 MPs, stated that all the arguments have failed and the debate is already going round and round. It will continue according to the conclusions of today's meeting of the organizing committee on Friday from 13:00 to 14:00.
Today, MPs also talked, for example, about the government's plans to combat disinformation and alleged attempts at censorship. She was torn about who from the coalition and from the opposition is a “disinformer”. Legislators often used brief remarks. Applications for the regular debate dwindled to a trickle, there are currently ten of them left from the 16 in the morning.
“You want to control public service media. Everyone knows and accepts this, except for the government coalition,” said Aleš Juchelka (ANO). According to his colleague from the club Patrik Nacher, the opposition has not yet received an answer to the question of why the government camp is in such a hurry to approve the amendment. According to ANO chairman Andrej Babiš, the point is that the current CEO Petr Dvořák remains in office. According to Babiš, Dvořák accepts that CT is not independent and is “a good director for the coalition of five”. “What evidence do I have? None,” the YES chairman commented on his claims. SPD leader Tomio Okamura repeated that the movement will defend the approval of the amendment. “It's another attack on democracy and plurality,” he said of her.
In the election of the councilors of the Czech Republic and the Czech Republic, the government amendment involves the Senate, which is supposed to occupy a third of the seats and in which the coalition parties now have a significant advantage. SPD has no representation in the upper chamber and ANO only a modest one. Due to the involvement of the Senate in their selection, the number of television councilors is to be increased by three to 18. The definition of organizations that can submit proposals for candidates is also to be tightened. New ones would have to have at least a ten-year history. Coalition politicians claim that the aim of the amendment is to strengthen the resilience of both public media. “The proposal clearly complicates any political attempts to have those who are obedient to the respective political parties elected to the media councils,” said Culture Minister Martin Baxa (ODS) today. The coalition sees the strengthening of the independence and stability of public service media mainly in the fact that it will no longer be possible to dismiss councils as a whole, but only their individual members.
In addition, the opposition MPs suspect the coalition of deliberately not letting the two annual reports of the CT Council be discussed in the House of Representatives. If the lower house were to reject the two reports, it could lead to the recall of the entire current CT Council and the election of new councilors even before the selection of the television director general, according to the coalition-led opposition. Jakob hit out at the opposition with an offer that the coalition will let the pair of reports be tabled for discussion on Friday if the House of Representatives approves the amendment today to dispel concerns. According to the opposition, the reports should have been received earlier. Juchelka did not push for the postponement of the final round of the amendment until the approval of the televised councillors' reports.
Two weeks ago, the ANO movement threatened to take the initiative to the Constitutional Court when the draft was adopted. According to the movement, due to the different process of electing members of councils in the House and in the Senate, the equality of people in the election to public positions could be violated. Ondřej Babka (ANO) today pointed out what he considered to be impermissible interference in the internal affairs of the councils, when, according to the amendment, the vice-chairman would have to be from the circle of members elected by a different parliamentary chamber than the chairman.