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Commentary: Czech broadcast regulator begins proceedings against TV Prima over report about Klinika social center

8.8.2016 9:40
The web page of Prima TV's
The web page of Prima TV's "News" program in the Czech Republic, 2016.

In addition to its other manipulative reporting about refugees and Romani people, the Prima television channel in the Czech Republic broadcast a manipulative news report this spring about the Klinika Autonomous Social Center in Prague, which provides aid to refugees and the socially vulnerable. The Czech Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting (RRTV) has now issued a press release announcing that it has begun an administrative proceedings with the station over its reportage about Klinika broadcast on 28 May 2016 in its News program. 

Prima's manipulative reportage

The RRTV describes Prima's reportage about Klinika in these words:  "The news coverage concerned violates the principle of thoroughly separating commentary from news reporting. The reportage was compiled in a manipulative way. Viewers were given predefined, specific opinions on the issues discussed by the reportage."

The expressive outbursts of reporter Karolina Hošek, who provided her personal opinions during the newscast (where such opinions have no business being introduced) are probably what caught the attention of the broadcasting regulator. For example, Hošek asks the following question of a Klinika representative:  "You are assembling [at the Klinika building] despite the fact that the rightful owner does not want you to. Do people who pay rent and take out mortgages deserve to do the same?"

Kateřina Kaclíková, a member of Klinika, answers:  "I don't know how that question relates to Klinika. We have a specific relationship that involves borrowing this building free of charge and organizing public benefit activities there."

Hošek then tells her viewers:  "You can form a picture of how the activists have managed the building from these photos, taken there immediately after the [police] intervention. There is unreal clutter, dirt, and bottles of alcohol everywhere, various slogans on the walls - this is the community center. Now for a message from Absurdistan:  Yesterday this nest, inhabited solely by left-wing activists, was given an award for civic bravery - yes, you hear correctly. The award, given by the Charter 77 Foundation, was given to the activists at the residence of the Mayor [of Prague]."

A bit later in the reportage, Hošek says the following:  "Now for the cherry on the cake. The activists want to donate the money associated with the award to an organization called the Anarchist Black Cross. That group supports political prisoners, but an expert says it has also has extremist features."

What does Klinika say?

What does the Autonomous Social Center Klinika say? "All we can say about the decision of the Council on Radio and Television Broadcasting to begin an administrative proceedings against FTV Prima over the reportage about our center is this:  This administrative proceedings is not happening at our instigation, but it is decidedly super," a member of Klinika, who did not wish to be named, told news server

The Prima television station has not answered repeated requests from news server to comment on its manipulative newscasts. Its producers were instructed last year by station management to report negatively about refugees, and its incitement against Czech Romani people living in Britain and against Klinika follows the same messaging.

That messaging can be summarized as follows:  Members of minorities and those who aid them are bad and dangerous - fear them! In any event, it is possible to say that Prima has been breaking the law on radio and television broadcasting for some time now and that the station should, therefore, lose its broadcasting license.

The Council on Radio and Television Broadcasting, however, has so far just reviewed isolated reportages, not the overall trend that Prima has deployed and is promoting. That is an error.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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