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Senate To Examine TV Crisis

Prague, 27 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The deputy chairman of the Czech Senate, Jan Ruml, says the chamber is likely to meet on January 3 for an emergency session to discuss the continuing crisis at Czech public television. Ruml says a group of senators will meet later today to plan the agenda. Some 3,000 people, including prominent cultural personalities and opposition politicians demonstrated in front of TV headquarters in Prague last night, in support of journalists defying the station's new management. Actors at Prague's leading theaters are also supporting the journalists, reading appeals for public support to audiences attending evening performances.

The crisis began earlier this month, when the Czech Broadcasting Council -- which is appointed by parliament -- named Jiri Hodac as general director of Czech television. Czech TV staff call Hodac's appointment politically motivated, in violation of the country's media law. Both Hodac and his newly-named news director, Jana Bobosikova, have ties to the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), led by parliament chairman Vaclav Klaus. But the Czech Republic's media law calls for non-political management of public TV.

Czech TV staff, who are occupying the station's main newsroom, refuse to recognize Hodac's authority or accept his new staffing orders.