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Czech broadcast authority says public television's news reporting on the US election broke the law

16.1.2017 8:35
The 2016 US presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (PHOTO: Czech Television)
The 2016 US presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (PHOTO: Czech Television)

Public broadcaster Czech Television broke the law in its November 2016 news broadcasts about election night in the United States of America, according to the Council on Radio and Television broadcasting (RRTV). Its broadcasting was imbalanced in favor of candidate Hillary Clinton at the expense of candidate Donald Trump, the RRTV announced in a press release on 12 January.

Czech Television had not yet received a copy of the Council's opinion on the issue when the news was announced, but responded by saying it considers its news coverage of the US election to have been balanced overall. RRTV also announced that the Prima television station broke the law with its news reporting about Iraqi refugees in the Czech Republic.

The Council found Czech Television broadcast imbalanced news reporting that was not objective because it favored one candidate by featuring what it called completely one-sided, systematic criticism of that candidate's opponent. "Czech Television has not yet received a detailed standpoint from the RRTV. We have not seen any of the analyses or background material the Council based its decision on. Therefore we are currently unable to respond in detail based on the partial information in the RRTV press release. However, we continue to be convinced that the 12-hour broadcast by ČT24 dedicated to the American presidential election was objective and balanced overall, including the segment that RRTV has expressed its opinion of," Czech Television spokesperson Alžběta Plívová told the Czech News Agency.

According to the Council, manipulative connections were made during the broadcast between audio and visuals in reportages about the positions taken by American celebrities toward both candidates. When the commentator noted that a petition against Donald Trump had been circulating amongst film stars, the images on screen were photographs of Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris, who are actually Trump supporters, but viewers would have received the unmistakable impression that they were persons who had joined the petition, the Council reported.

The RRTV also said Czech Television's commentaries in studio or from pre-filmed segments featured four US citizens, all of whom were Clinton supporters and criticized Trump. The broadcast regulator said the public broadcaster also used clips from the American cable news network CNN, which it alleges openly sympathized with Clinton during the election campaign.

In some cases, the Czech public broadcaster's commentary was not separated from its news information, the RRTV said. Plívová said the information in the RRTV press release is incomplete.

"There were 24 guests on the ČT24 broadcast about the presidential elections, 11 of them in the segment the RRTV has focused on, and that was a group with diverse opinions. There were five citizens of the USA who were respondents, but they decidedly were not 'transparent supporters' of either candidate. We will be able to provide more detailed information once we familiarize ourselves with the specifics," the Czech Television spokesperson said.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Česká televize, Média, RRTV, USA



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