Jan Čulík, you will be shot down in flames in Edinburgh!
Ivo MathéFormer Czech TV's Chief Executive's Comments on Jan Čulík's lecture "News and Current Affairs in Czech Television
Dear Mr Čulík,
I know nothing about the participants of the Edinburgh Conference "The Profession of Journalism in Democratic Society: East-West Perspectives", but if they are competent (ie. if they do not mix up the Czech Republic with Serbia and Slovakia with Slovenia, which often happens even in the more civilised parts of the world, including Great Britain) nad attentive, they will notice the contradiction in the statemens: "Czech politicians have got used to using ... the Czech Television team as an obedient instrument..." and "The Parliamentary Commission (made up of politicians) criticised low levels of professionalism and objectivity in Czech TV" and so you will be publicly ridiculed, and justly so.
I have had to counter statements made by Vladimír Železný, Chief Executive of Nova TV, at international conferences many times, thus trying to prevent him from spreading misinformation. I do not know whether Milan Šmíd from the Czech Republic will be willing to do similar things after your lecture (after all, like Ivan Kytka's , Milan Šmíd's hands are a little dirty from the past). My verbal duels with Mr Železný at least entertained the audience (now Železný openly likes what is going on in Czech TV and often praises it as though he were a kind uncle). After your lecture, the participants in Edinburgh will be confused and frightened and will think that Czech TV broadcasts in Montenegro.
It is still possible to stop the dissemination of your tendentious and mildy chauvinistic statements such as "But the cultural differences were too strong". For instance, if the participants of the conference read my pieces, published in Czech in the internet daily Britské listy (http://www.britskelisty.cz) ("Zpět do civilizace, prosím, raději evropské", "Ad vyznání Andrew Stroehleina", "Stroehlein hodně zběžně", "Televize není jen zpravodajská žurnalistika!"), the participants could form their own views without accepting yours, which you are forcing upon them in a pleasant - and a slightly arrogant way - by giving them this half baked presentation.
I am sorry that an author of your quality, articulateness and stylistic skill degrades parts of your well thought-out text with angry - maybe not deliebrately demagogical - statements. There is only a small step to manipulation and misinterpretation. But you use them a lot this time.
If you criticise just one sentence from the Statutes of Czech Television (without my explanation), you are committing a fraud. If you say that "it seems that Czech TV could not broadcast an interview with British Eurosceptics", you are manipulating your audience.
If you say in Edinburgh that the new Council for Czech TV is a "non party political body", you will be lying. The same applies to your statement "The Council of Czech Television expressed its wish to do away with the post communist ethos by naming ... who was inspired by the BBC practice.")
Mr Čulík, the Council for Czech TV wanted to do away with the independence of Czech TV and to subjugate it to political parties. In Puchalský, the Council evidently saw a person willing to respect authority (in terms of the Council, which consists of mediocre individuals). After all, Puchalský was used to obey people above him, from the times that he worked for the BBC World Service, which is an openly non-pluralist radio service, which must follow the line of the British Foreign Office, which finances the BBC World Service.
By the way, how do you know that I was criticised for "low professionalism of (the whole of) Czech TV"? Wishful thinking? (I have seen several television stations on several continents and everywhere, including Britain and the US, many of my people would excel professionally! Puchalský's new and young "specialists" are getting rid of these professionals, so that there might not be anyone better than they are near them. Of course, this is what the bolsheviks did for forty years. This is what various Saviours from the West, especially from the English speaking countries, did, at the beginning of the 1990s.)
Please, do not identify the whole output of Czech Television with a few selected news and current affairs programmes. Some of my friends regard as indispensable Czech TV news broadcasts in the morning, or daily at midnight. Kytka wanted to abolish all these!
When you say, "Czech TV's main evening news showed a pro-government tendency" or "it was concluded that important changes are needed", is this information from Kytka, from the Head of Council for Czech TV Jirák, Chief Executive of Czech TV Puchalský or from a Glasgow pub? If the former Czech premier Klaus now reads about my alleged "pro-government bias", he falls into fits of laughter and anger and takes back all his threats and complaints that he has sent me while I was in office.
Why are you saying that "Stroehlein firmed up the backbone of Jednadvacítka"? As a result of his unprofessionalism and lack of linguistic knowledge, Strohlein threatened the very essence of this current-affairs programme of European stature.
Why are you talking nonsense about my head of news and current affairs Studenovský? Under his leadership, the news department had a firmly defined management strucuture. There was a logical system of meetings. Reponsibilities were fully defined. Kytka broke everything. If production did not continue in secret, without his knowledge, nothing would be filmed and no news would be produced for several days. The accusation directed at Studenovský, talking about his contacts with the outside world, is unfair. I am sure that the new bosses of Czech TV have been to more dinners over the past four months than Studenovský during his six years. Although I criticised him for various things, he certainly was not politically biased and he was not a conspirator. With Kytka, of course, this was different - his open support for the Labour Party is well known. (Privately, he can of course support whatever party he wishes.) Studenovský has paid for his clear conscience, unlike Kytka.
Your description of Czech TV's news and current affairs under Studenovský is so much beyond reality that I can even recognise the sources of this "highly dramatic" information which you have used. If you are stating such nonsense in public, probably before an audience which is not very well informed, some people might think that you have spent many long months in Czech TV. Have you actually ever visited Kavčí hory during those six years when we were "bent on destryoing" Czech TV (which originally did not exist)? Or are your insults mere products of your untamed imagination, combined with gossip?
Mr. Čulík, if the editor-in-chief receives complaints, this is proof of his courage, independence, analytical attitude, depth, and objectivity. It is totally different from other people's desire "not to annoy anyone" because representatives of the parliamentary parties in the Council for Czech TV have "put their faith in me" (and maybe, I have also skeletons in the cupboard). This was evidently the degenerate philosophy of the person you support (who worked under the new Chief Executive).
It transpires from your text that you know the whole Puchalský project (you even know that it is a "reform" project and you quote it!) Could you not show some courage and print the whole Puchalský project in Britské listy? Otherwise everyone will think that there is no such project and you are just bluffing.
How do you know that Puchalský "forced Kytka to resign"? Why does Kytka not state this in public? What is he afraid of? Of his nice job in London, far from the madding crowd? What were you afraid of when you refused to work as an achorman under Kytka for a debating programme?
Why do you not mention this in Edinburgh?
I could go on for a long time. Maybe I will find a participant of the conference who will ask you some inquisitive questions (instead of going to the Castle). If he has a view different from yours, the purpose of the conference will be fulfilled better, although you will not leave as an authority.
Maybe this text, sent to the conference organisers, will suffice.
With my best wishes,