Czech Republic

Concern over media freedom of Central European Media Enterprises after takeover by Czech billionaire

By the end of December 2020, the government had imposed stricter measures to curb the spread of the virus, which has caused public discontent. In this context, several demonstrations against the COVID-19 restrictions took place in the Czech Republic. Press freedom groups have jointly expressed concern over the acquisition of Central European Media Enterprises (CME) by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner in October 2020. CME is a company that develops and produces content for thirty television channels in five Central and Eastern European countries. TV NOVA -- Czech Republic’s largest private TV channel -- is among the channels owned by the CME. Despite CME’s statement in which the company reaffirmed its commitment to independence, pluralism and media freedom, Kellner’s ties with China have raised concerns about media freedom. Read more

Concern over media freedom of Central European Media Enterprises after takeover by Czech billionaire

Anti-lockdown protest turns violent amid a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

As of 12th October 2020, the right to peaceful assembly has been limited to a maximum of 500 people due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 18th October 2020, anti-lockdown protesters gathered at the Old Town Square in Prague to condemn the measures that banned sports competitions and the restrictions imposed on bars and restaurants. The protest, which was initially legal, grew in large numbers. However, several protesters started to throw objects including beer bottles, flares and stones at the police protecting public order. The police used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse the protest. Meanwhile, the Million Moments for Democracy-led demonstrations against the Babiš government have been staged online during the pandemic.
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Anti-lockdown protest turns violent amid a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

Draft law seeks to reduce funding to CSOs; PM attacks CSOs during pandemic

The Communist Party (KSČM) proposed an amendment to a law, which seeks to dramatically reduce the financing of associations and civic initiatives from the state budget. According to the bill, only beneficiaries that contribute to the fulfillment of state policy objectives will be provided with subsidies. In addition, Czech NGOs have also come under fire by Prime Minister Babiš, who has directly attacked civil society organisations (CSOs) as incompetent and inactive during the pandemic. The Million Moments for Democracy-led demonstrations against the Babiš government have continued. A resolution by the European Parliament, issued in June 2020, which called on the Czech Prime Minister to step down or to remove all activities that pose a conflict of interest, was widely supported by citizens.

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Draft law seeks to reduce funding to CSOs; PM attacks CSOs during pandemic

Citizens call for PM’s resignation in anti-government protests; press freedom in decline

Thousands of citizens took to the street in anti-government protests, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who is under criminal investigation. A fact finding report finds that journalists or media outlets that report negatively on the PM are publicly insulted and discredited. Press freedom is in decline- in five years the Czech Republic has dropped 27 places from 13 in 2014 to 40 in 2019 on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. Read more

Citizens call for PM’s resignation in anti-government protests; press freedom in decline

Politicians continue to undermine critical media in the Czech Republic. Mass protests persist

This update covers the period from January 2019 to June 2019 and highlights among the civic space concerns attacks against independent journalism. Read more

Politicians continue to undermine critical media in the  Czech Republic. Mass protests persist

Political interference suspected after broadcaster's dismissal

A radio broadcaster with Radio Vltava was dismissed from his position amid concerns of rising political influence over the public broadcaster. Read more

Political interference suspected after broadcaster's dismissal

Coalition party moves to cut funding to "political NGOs"

One of the parties in the Czech Republic's governing coalition has proposed a 20% cut in funding to NGOs, which observers fear could be targetted at vocal human rights groups. Read more

Coalition party moves to cut funding to "political NGOs"

Political maneuverings and uncertainties spark protests across the country

People in the Czech republic took to the streets in March to oppose the election of a politician who had participated in beating up pro-democracy protesters during the Communist era. Read more

Political maneuverings and uncertainties spark protests across the country

Zeman's reelection marked by media freedom concerns

At a staff party to celebrate Miloš Zeman's reelection as Czech president, supporters of the president were filmed pushing and attempting to punch reporters. Read more

Zeman's reelection marked by media freedom concerns

European far-right meeting draws protests in Prague

A meeting of far-right, anti-immigration parties in Prague in December prompted protests, mostly by left-wing groups. The rise of the Czech Republic's own far-right party has also raised tensions amid controversial statements by some of its leaders. Read more

European far-right meeting draws protests in Prague