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Czech Republic: Klaus Declares Legislative Emergency

Prague, 4 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The Czech parliament took steps today to speed up amendments to the country's media laws -- a move aimed at defusing the excalating dispute involving the leadership of public television. In the dispute, rebel journalists at the TV are protesting the appointment of a new general director, Jiri Hodac.

Vaclav Klaus, speaker of the lower house of parliament, today declared a state of legislative emergency from 8 January to 12 January to enable lawmakers to accelerate debate and approval of a bill amending laws on public TV and radio broadcasting. The bill is intended to depoliticize the electronic media's regulatory and oversight bodies.

Klaus said parliament will discuss and vote on the bill in the first reading at a special session on 12 January.

"This government bill will be discussed in a so-called shortened process so that it can be discussed and adopted in a single day."

Meanwhile, general director Hodac -- who is at the center of the dispute -- was admitted to hospital. One of his allies, TV news director Jana Bobosikova, said he is suffering "absolute exhaustion". Protesting TV journalists say Hodac is politically biased because of his close ties to Klaus' Civic Democratic Party.