The US company Central European Media Enterprises (CME) has bought the Czech commercial television channel TV Nova for 642 million dollars in the largest direct US investment in the country. CME announced the deal on Monday and TV Nova's majority-stake owner, the financial group PPF, has confirmed the sale. CME previously held a stake in TV Nova but was involved in a long legal dispute with Nova's former general director Vladimir Zelezny, who is now a Czech MEP. Mr Zelezny eventually broke off all relations with CME and its head, the cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder, in 1999. The news of the sale comes two years after an international arbitration ruled that the Czech state had to pay nearly 360 million dollars in compensation to CME for failing to protect its investment in TV Nova.
The Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said that President Vaclav Klaus does not observe his promise that he would stand above parties and that he behaves like the honorary chairman of the strongest opposition party, meaning the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party which Mr Klaus chaired for many years. Mr Gross was reacting to Mr Klaus's statement for Saturday's issue of the daily Pravo that the cabinet of Stanislav Gross was unable to solve long-standing problems, reinforcing the power of state over the individual.
The outgoing U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is set to arrive in Prague on Monday evening ahead of talks on Tuesday with Czech politicians including Justice Minister Pavel Nemec and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan. Among other things the Czech justice minister and his U.S. counterpart will work to negotiate a new treaty on extradition. The current treaty between the U.S. and the Czech Republic dates back to 1920s Czechoslovakia and a new basis for cooperation between the two countries needs to be adopted, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry has said.
Icy conditions are more than likely to have been a factor in a five-car pile-up in the north Bohemian region of Usti nad Labem on Sunday that left three injured and transported to hospital in Litomerice. One of the cars caught fire in the crash, but was soon put out by fire fighters arriving at the scene.
Czech ski jumper Jakub Janda built on a fairly successful first day of ski jumping by placing 3rd in a second World Cup event in Harrachov, north-east Bohemia, on Sunday. In Sunday's competition Janda came third, with jumps of 140 and 136.5 metres. His medal finish is his third on the World Cup circuit so far this year. Finn Janne Ahonen clinched the top spot with jumps of 140 and 141 metres.
Delegates at district conferences of the Social Democratic Party held in
the towns of Hodonin and Breclav in south Moravia, have voted in favour of
Labour & Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach's taking over as head
of the Social Democrat Party next year. Mr Skromach has already announced
plans to challenge Prime Minister Stanislav Gross for the chairmanship at
the party's convention in the spring. At the weekend Mr Skromach took part
in meetings in both districts, presenting a plan for the Social Democratic
Party to return to its left-of-centre roots.
Otherwise, there are indications that most district organisations continue to support Prime Minister Gross. Mr Skromach does have some high-profile backers, namely retired politician and former prime minister Milos Zeman.
Around 70 Russian children and adults on recuperative stay in Karlovy
Vary following the tragedy in Russia's Beslan visited the west Bohemian
town of Pilsen on Sunday. Visiting sites included Pilsen's zoo. Most of
the children and parents invited for the four-week stay in the Czech
Republic lost friends or loved ones in the hostage-taking and terrorist
stand-off in Beslan, in September, in which terrorists killed 330
people. Of those, 172 were children.
Czech specialists say the children on stay in Karlovy Vary have adapted well, but continue to show deeply-ingrained trauma, evident in their drawings of bombs, graves, and war.
One of the parents told the press on Sunday that returning home would be difficult, that parents would once again fear for their children there.
The Czech awards ceremony Cesky slavik - or the Czech Nightingale -
held in Prague on Saturday has seen a repeat of winners from 2003:
Lucie Bila clinched the title of best female singer while the best
musical group award went to Czech heavy metal band Kabat. Czech singer
Karel Gott won for a notable 30th time in his extensive career, while
young star Aneta Langerova, the winner of the Czech Republic's first
ever Pop Idol, was voted best newcomer. Cesky slavik winners are chosen
through a public poll: this year some 94,000 Czechs took part.
Besides featuring Czech stars the awards evening also saw performances by Norwegian singer Kurt Nilsen and Ukrainian star Ruslana.
Members from two of the three government parties have - for the most part - rejected the president's view. On Saturday Social Democrat deputy chairman Zdenek Skromach said he believed the government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross would manage to govern until the next election in 2006, and ruled out a shift to minority rule. Freedom Union deputy chairman Frantisek Pelc, also commented, largely rejecting the president's words. At the same time he did concede he felt there was some truth to the president's criticism of the government's health care reform, which the president had said lacked "strategic focus".