Czech digital war heats up

Upstarts hit out at Nova

PRAGUE — Independent broadcasters have fired the latest salvo in the battle for Czech digital television licenses, accusing TV Nova owner Central European Media Enterprises of being “solely interested in maintaining their monopoly position and maximizing profits.”

An association of six would-be digital television stations, whose permission to broadcast has been on hold since fall, following TV Nova’s complaints over the state licensing process, has appealed to CME owner Ron Lauder to go along with a new broadcast law amendment that would free them to begin operations.

Nova and CME have called the amendment, currently on the floor of Parliament, an unreasonable change to the licensing system. It would give temporary five-year permission to broadcast to the six independent stations, with another five-year permit likely to follow.

If Lauder were truly interested in “support of democracy, media independence and plurality in the market,” said Jiri Balvin, prexy of the Ocko music video station and head of the Digital Television Association, TV Nova would respond to the chance it’s been given by the state to provide input into the law.

Nova topper Petr Dvorak has complained the station was given insufficient notice to respond to the law, which would move the changeover from analog broadcasting from 2012 to 2009, but the station has pledged to offer its input shortly.

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