In a public vote, Parliament on Tuesday picked 6 out of 18 candidates for the new Radio and TV Council, which is to replace the one dissolved at the beginning of April. Parliament's media watchdog was dissolved by the governing coalition on the grounds of "overall poor performance" and its alleged failure to protect foreign investments in the country's private TV station Nova, resulting in a ten billion crown fine for the Czech Republic. The Radio and TV Council should have 13 members altogether and until all the posts are filled it will be unable to function. It is not yet clear when a second round of voting is to take place.
The Czech government has earmarked 40 million Czech crowns out of the state budget to be used for humanitarian aid to Iraq and to cover the expenses of a group of twenty Czech experts who are to assist with the reconstruction of the country. The ministries of foreign affairs, defence and trade have fourteen days to draw up a joint plan on the country's political and economic contribution to Iraq's reconstruction. The government has yet to decide how much money will be allocated to Czech firms directly involved in Iraq's reconstruction. A vote is expected within 14 days.
The US government is to consider the possibility of moving Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to a safer location in the Czech Republic. American experts have studied an option put forward by the Czech foreign ministry and have expressed satisfaction with the proposal, Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda told newsmen in Prague on Tuesday. No details of the proposed location have been disclosed. The Czech foreign minister said it was now up to the US government to come to a decision. The Czech government has been trying to find a safer location for the US funded station ever since the September 11 th terrorist attacks against US targets.
The Czech cabinet has approved a draft law guaranteeing a lifelong monthly salary of 50,000 Czech crowns to retired Czech presidents. Former presidents will receive another 50,000 to cover further expenses.
The Czech government's pro-EU campaign is to be launched on May 1st, some six weeks before Czechs are due to vote on EU membership in a national referendum. The campaign, for which the government earmarked 200 million crowns, includes TV spots, discussion programmes and panel debates, billboards and leaflets. The government is already operating a toll free phone line on EU matters and within the next few weeks every Czech household should get materials outlining the main points of the Czech Republic's association agreement with the EU.
Wednesday should be partly cloudy with some rain and afternoon thunderstorms in the north western parts of the country. Afternoon highs between 23 and 28 degrees Celsius.
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