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Czech Republic: Parliament Debates TV Strike

Prague, 5 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The lower chamber of the Czech parliament meets today to discuss the ongoing standoff between striking workers at Czech public television and its new general director. The journalists have been demanding the resignation of general director Jiri Hodac, alleging he has close political ties to the party of former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. Yesterday, Hodac was taken to hospital suffering from apparent exhaustion. He is reported to be in stable condition.

The Czech parliament took steps to speed up amendments to the country's media laws -- a move aimed at defusing the dispute involving the leadership of public television.

Klaus, speaker of the lower house of parliament, declared a state of legislative emergency from 8-12 January 2001 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.