One often noted theme by political commentators and the so-called “mainstream journalists” is the growth of what is referred to as “alternative media”. In the Czech context, this label generally means news sources that tend to be more conservative, less cosmopolitan, and more nationalistic than the traditional media. Let us, therefore, attempt to trace some of the reasons why these media have gained popularity.
The rise of disinformation media has been noted world-wide, with traditional media losing readers/viewers and thus getting into financial problems. In the Czech context, this has been compounded by the transfers of media from foreign into Czech billionaires hands.
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Media Ownership in the Czech Republic
A diverse selection of media exists in the Czech Republic, albeit not as diverse as say, 10 years ago. This is tied to changes in the ownership structure that will be discussed later. Media can be broadly divided into three categories.
These are the public media, that are financed, but not directly controlled by the government; the traditional media, which have been having the same problems as their counterparts in other countries; and he last, newest and most controversial category is the “alternative” media (according to themselves) or disinformation media.
Czech Television (ČT) can be considered as the most trustworthy source of news in the Czech Republic1, is still the publicly owned Czech Television (ČT). It is structured in a similar way as for example the BBC, and is still partly funded by mandatory public subscription – i.e. anyone who owns a television must pay.
It is quite insulated from politics, partly due to its structure and partly due to a previously failed attempt by politicians from the then dominant Social Democratic and Civic Democratic parties, to gain direct editorial control over it (the so-called television strike in 2000).
As a result, the editorial tone is set mostly by the journalists working there. As such, the political leanings of the TV could fairly accurately be described as mildly progressive, pro-EU, and centre to centre-left2.
2 For an example of mainstream right wing criticism see https://www.reflex.cz/clanek/komentare/85798/ceska-televize-si-muze-za-kritiku-casto-sama-v-mnohem-nestranna-rozhodne-neni.html