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Czech Republic: Controversial TV Boss Said Hospitalized

Prague, 4 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The man at the center of the Czech media crisis, public television director Jiri Hodac, is said to have been taken to hospital in a "serious medical condition." CTK news agency quotes the TV's news director Jana Bobosikova as saying Hodac was taken by ambulance to hospital today, but she declined to give further details of his illness. There is no independent confirmation of her assertion.

Rebel journalists at the TV have occupied studios since 24 December demanding the ouster of Hodac, alleging he has close links to the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. They fear Hodac is politically biased

Hodac was elected the TV's general director on 20 December, sparking the conflict.

Meanwhile, Klaus, who is the Speaker of the lower house of the Czech parliament, today declared a state of legislative emergency 8-12 Jan. This will enable lawmakers to accelerate the debate and approval of a government bill amending laws on public television and radio broadcasting.

The bill is intended to depoliticize the electronic media's regulatory and oversight bodies. Klaus says parliament will discuss and vote on the bill in the first reading at a special session 12 Jan.

Parliament's media commission and culture committee held a joint session to discuss the two-week-old crisis.