ROMEA declines invitation to Czech Television's debate program on Czech President's remarks because of its sensationalism
Czech Television is planning to address the recent insulting remarks made by Czech President Miloš Zeman about Romani people on next week's episode of its debate program called "You Have the Floor" (Máte slovo), moderated by Michaela Jílková. In his remarks, the President alleged 90 % of Romani people in the country do not work for a living.
Representatives of ROMEA have already emphatically objected to Zeman's allegations and refuted them. Jílková's producers subsequently invited representatives of ROMEA to appear in next week's episode.
Nobody from the ROMEA organization will be appearing on "You Have the Floor". "This discussion program turns everything into a tabloid scandal and the upshot is that it that makes communication impossible - its concept is to reduce everything to an attempt by those participating to humiliate, out-argue, and shout down their interlocutors," ROMEA said in a press release which news server Romea.cz is publishing here in full translation.
PRESS RELEASE 10 OCTOBER 2018 by ROMEA, o.p.s.
The dramaturgs for the "You Have the Floor" (Máte slovo) progam, moderated by Michaela Jílková, sent the ROMEA organization an e-mail yesterday with a request for our participation on their program. Next Wednesday, the producers write, the episode will be dedicated to the remarks made by Czech President Zeman about Romani people and their work morale, as well as whether the country's welfare programs are being abused, whether the amount of welfare being paid demotivates welfare recipients when it comes to finding employment, etc.
Prior to that, on Monday the creators of the program had called Monika Mihaličková, who has already spoken on behalf of the ROMEA organization about Zeman's insulting, racist remarks, to invite her to appear next week. According to the dramaturgs, those who have already agreed to appear next week are Jiří Ovčáček, press spokesperson for Zeman, Czech MP Jaroslav Foldyna (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD), Czech MP Olga Richterová (Pirate Party) and Robin Stria, a Romani community member who is an activist and community organizer.
Representatives of the ROMEA organization will not be participating in what Czech Television's website calls its "discussion program where you can express your opinion and where we address problems and subjects citizens are worried about." This discussion program turns everything into a tabloid scandal and the upshot is it that it makes communication impossible - its concept is to reduce everything to an attempt by those participating to humiliate, out-argue, and shout down their interlocutors.
We refuse to contribute to the filming of this degrading entertainment program, which exploits people's despair and misery and does not meet the basic standards of journalism, such as having a moderator who is able to respond when interlocutors make allegations that are untrue. This program incites aggression among those of different opinions and offers no constructive solutions.
We also ask the representatives of the public broadcaster, Czech Television, whether this "boiler room" is really the only program where Romani people are meant to be given room to express their opinions and object to the bias expressed against them? A program where extremists and populists, not experts or politicians whose decisions could actually achieve societal change, are the ones invited to express their views of Romani-related subjects?
Especially today, we need expert, factual debate where people will not be shouting each other down and where Romani people and others will be given enough space to contribute to a cultivated discourse. "You Have the Floor" is just about opening up populist, rumor-mongering topics over which two irreconcilable camps do battle and are incapable of finding a common solution.
This public broadcasting program has long exacerbated ethnic and social intolerance by inviting populists like Ovčáček or the anti-Romani politician Foldyna to express their views of such a serious topic. We call on all Romani community members to boycott this program and not participate in filming it.
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