OSCE Report on June 1998 General Election in the Czech Republic
The final OSCE report on the Czech elections is here.
It is pretty dull stuff in the end. Here are the key bits: (Andrew Stroehlein)
Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
19 AND 20 JUNE 1998
There were allegations that the recently-appointed head of Czech Television's News and Current Affairs Department had to resign after only 51 days in office because his "Wester" approach disturbed both his colleagues and the political elite. This sparked critical comments from many experts, but direct pressure from political quarters could not be proven. Still, this incident raised concerns over CT's journalistic independence. Besides, radical and small parties alike complain that they are ignored by the media outside campaign periods, and some analysts say those complaints are not unfounded. But despite all problems, the media generally operate freely and independently, and on the whole, they provide balanced and accurate information. This was also true for the recent election campaign.
Czech Televisions coverage was characterized by a very equitable approach towards all parties. The range of coverage was between 5.0% and 11.7% on CT1, and between 5.2% and 9.2% on CT2. This is largely due to the fact that both channels ran special broadcasts in which they aimed at giving all parties an equal opportunity to present their views. The Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union received relatively high amounts of coverage because several of their leading members were in the Tosovsky government. The tendency of coverage on Czech TV was largely neutral. The only parties to receive a significant amount of negative coverage were the ODS and the Republicans (both on CT1), the former because of their election campaign (especially in connection with the Lucie Bila concert in Prague) and the latter because of their position vis-a-vis the Roma minority. Overall, CT provided very balanced coverage both in quantitative and qualitative terms and gave small parties in particular a fair chance to present themselves to the electorate.
Overall, the media succeeded in providing comprehensive campaign coverage.
Czech Television in particular lived up to its role by providing all 13
parties with equitable access and by its largely balanced coverage. The
private media naturally focused more on the major parties. Although political
preferences of the individual media were apparent in the way they covered
the campaign, there were virtually no cases of unfounded negative reporting.
Usually, parties received negative coverage because of their campaign platforms
and political records. Slander and defamation were conspicuously absent
from Czech media during this campaign. In this respect, the coverage of
the private media can also be regarded as satisfactory. Finally, overt
political pressure on media was no issue in this campaign.