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Czech Republic: Rally To Support TV Journalists' Strike

Prague, 3 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Supporters of striking Czech public television journalists are due to hold a mass demonstration today in Prague. The journalists are demanding the dismissal of the new general director. They say Jiri Hodac's appointment was politically motivated and that he is too close to parliamentary speaker Vaclav Klaus of the opposition Civic Democratic Party. The journalists say Hodac's ties to Klaus will compromise the station's journalistic integrity. A committee named by parliament appointed Hodac, but he denies any political bias.

The journalists declared a formal strike on Monday, but continued to produce live news programs available on cable and satellite. Yesterday, Czech political leaders met in a bid to defuse the crisis, but no agreement was reached.

Social Democratic Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Klaus and leaders of two smaller opposition parties said they will wait for proposals from parliament on the issue.

Zeman said a new law on public television is needed to solve the crisis.

Government spokesman Libor Roucek said the government is drafting a new law.