Czechs spent CZK 7 billion crowns, or around $350 million, on books in 2011, according to a report by the country’s booksellers’ and publishers’ association released on Tuesday. In the first report of its kind, the association said the average price of books sold last year was CZK 240 crowns. Some 16,000 titles were published in the Czech Republic, which was around 7 percent less than previous year, and 15 percent less than in 2008, when a higher VAT rate for books was introduced. The report also says there are around 550 bookstores in the country and some 50 specialized booksellers. One of the specific features of the Czech market is the important role played by wholesalers that run their own retail and online bookstores.
The final two motor rallies of the season in the Czech Republic will not now be held, a spokesperson for the body that oversees rallies in the country said after a extraordinary meeting on Tuesday. The announcement comes in the wake of an accident during the amateur RallyShow Uherský Brod last weekend in which four spectators – the youngest of them six years of age – were killed when they were struck by a car.
The Czech Olympic javelin champion Barbora Špotáková has announced that she is taking a career break due to pregnancy. Špotáková, who is 31, said she would return to competition in time for the 2014 season. The popular athlete took gold at the last two Olympics and also hold’s the women’s world record in the javelin. At the weekend, she was named Czech Athlete of the Year for the sixth time in a row.
The latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, has become the biggest film in the series at the Czech box office. It has been seen by over 350,000 people in the country’s cinemas since it opened at the end of last month. The previous biggest Bond film at the country’s box office was 2006’s Casino Royale, which was seen by just over quarter of a million viewers. Last weekend over three times as many tickets were sold for Skyfall than for the second best-attended movie.
The Czech government’s austerity measures and budget cuts will not affect the country’s commitments towards NATO, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said. Speaking at a session of NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague on Monday, Mr Nečas said budget instability would be a greater threat to the Czech Republic’s defence abilities than the fact the country is not spending the required 2 percent of the GDP on defence. The prime minister also vowed that Czech defence spending will not decrease in the coming years. However, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that the levels of defence expenditure by the alliance’s European member states were alarming.
Former prime minister Jan Fischer has increased his lead in the Czech presidential race, according to a new poll by ppm factum. The poll suggests that 28.1 percent of people would vote for Mr Fischer. Another ex-prime minister, Miloš Zeman, was second in the survey, with 19.4 percent of respondents saying they would cast their ballots for him. Since September, Mr Fischer’s lead over Miloš Zeman increased by some 3.5 percent. The poll also shows that around 10 percent of voters would support Czech-Japanese entrepreneur Tomio Okamura while the Social Democrat candidate, Jiří Dienstbier, would receive 8.8 percent of the vote.
The police have appealed for witnesses of Saturday’s rally accident which killed four people near Uherské Hradiště in the southeast of the country. The police have also asked for any video footage and photographs of the crash. The accident happened during an amateur rally in Lopeník when one of the cars swerved off the road and hit a group of onlookers, killing four people including a seven-year-old girl. The police have not yet raised any formal charges in relation to the crash; the driver of the car blamed the accident on strong wind. Czech motor-racing authorities have meanwhile called for changes to the rules of rally events.
The Czech Interior Ministry on Monday rejected a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court which said that over several years, the police wrongly required employees to take unpaid overtime. Under Czech law, police officers, fire fighters, customs officers and members of the prison service can be asked to do up to 150 hours in unpaid service; however, the court ruled that overtime duty could not be planned long in advance, which was at least sometimes the case. Police trade unions said the verdict applied to members of the security forces, and could in effect costs the state budget up to two billion crowns. But police and ministry officials believe the verdict is related to one specific case in which overtime duty was poorly justified.
President Václav Klaus on Monday vetoed a bill on cinematography which would enhance public support for Czech filmmakers and increase incentives for foreign productions working in the Czech Republic. Under the draft legislation, the state fund for the support of cinematography would annually hand out up to 300 million crowns half of which would come from commercial TV broadcasters while foreign film productions shooting in the country would be reimbursed for 10 percent of their expenditures and 20 percent of additional costs. However, President Klaus said the film industry was a business that should not be funded with public money, and suggested the biggest problem of Czech cinema was not a lack of money but rather a lack of creative invention. The bill now returns to the lower house of Parliament which can override Mr Klaus’s veto.
The Czech telecommunications authority on Monday launched the first round of an auction of frequencies for the fourth-generation mobile networks. All three mobile phone operators active in the country – T-Mobile, Telefónica and Vodafone – are taking part in the auction, as well as the firm PPF Mobile Services which aspires to become the fourth nation-wide operator. The asking price for the frequencies is 7.4 billion crowns; the results of the auction are to be announced on November 28.