CME hopes to receive Czech check

Swedish court to announce ruling

PRAGUE — U.S. cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder’s Central European Media Enterprises will learn today (Thursday) whether it will get $355 million in compensation from the Czech Republic for failing to protect its investment in commercial station Nova TV.

A Swedish court is expected to rule on the matter, the latest in a long list of legal wrangles over the station that was wrested from CME by its controversial director Vladimir Zelezny in 1999.

The station’s license holders fired him Wednesday — the third attempt to oust him. Zelezny has reportedly accepted the decision by new license holders and principle shareholder PPF.

PPF, one of the largest investment groups in the Czech Republic, took the action to protect its investment in Nova and distance itself from Zelezny.

Program director Libuse Smuclerova and CFO Petr Chajda will run Nova until a new director is appointed.

CME lost its exclusive service agreement in 1999 when Zelezny relaunched the station with Czech backers and with the help of the Czech Broadcasting Council. The Broadcasting Council was dismissed in April when evidence of its collusion with Zelezny was made public. A new Broadcasting Council, which could rescind Nova’s license, was appointed Tuesday.

According to reports, Zelezny was unsurprised by the ouster and blamed it on a campaign against Nova and himself.

Zelezny currently holds a seat in the Czech Senate; he was elected last fall to represent the southeastern wine-growing region where he owns a vineyard.

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