World Media in 2005: Czech Republic

The death of Communism has given freedom and independence to the once tightly controlled, state-run media, and burgeoning commercial opportunities are tempting foreign media owners.

Last year, the Czech Republic underwent two major cultural changes, joining the European Union on 1 May and abolishing compulsory military service after 136 years.

Vaclav Klaus is now the president, heading a new coalition government, led by the Czech Social Democratic Party, which appears to be neither effective nor popular.

Klaus came to power following the 14-year term of Vaclav Havel, the first president of post-Communist Czechoslovakia. Havel, a playwright, forms part of the nation's rich cultural heritage: the country is the birthplace of the composer Dvorak and the writers Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera.

The death of Communism has transformed the Czech media from tightly controlled, state-run TV, press and radio channels into a free and independent media.

There are several foreign media owners in the Czech Republic and more are eyeing up the burgeoning commercial opportunities. The Swiss publisher Ringier owns Blesk, the most popular daily tabloid, while Hachette Filipacchi, Ringier and Burda are among the country's major consumer magazine publishers.

The big media scoop of 2004 came towards the end of 2004, when TV Nova, the largest commercial TV station in Central and Eastern Europe, was snapped up by the US media owner Central European Media Enterprises (CME). The price tag was a staggering $642 million and CME reportedly saw off competition from the German media giant Bertelsmann. TV Nova launched in 1994 and was the first nationwide commercial TV channel in the former Soviet bloc.

It quickly gained more popularity than the public broadcaster, Ceska Televize, which operates two channels. A third TV network, Prima, completes the line-up.

TV has enjoyed exponential growth and claims more adspend than radio, newspapers and magazines combined. Reality shows are hugely popular and Nestle, the Czech Republic's biggest advertiser, was one of the first brands to seize on their potential: the foods giant sponsored Search for a Super, the Czech version of Pop Idol.

Commercialisation began in earnest about 11 years ago and things have moved fast. The country's leading telecoms company, Cesky Telecom, was privatised last year, prompting one of the country's biggest media pitches, where the prize was the combined account for Cesky Telecom and its mobile subsidiary, Eurotel.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE

USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1=Kc

28.21 *Estimated

News- Mag-

Total papers azines TV Radio Cinema Others Internet

1993 152 49 37 66 0 - - 0

1994 268 64 59 125 20 - - 0

1995 288 61 70 134 23 - - 0

1996 366 65 81 191 29 - - 0

1997 521 108 134 256 23 - - 0

1998 698 156 149 326 30 - 37 0

1999 859 174 181 426 41 - 35 2

2000 999 196 205 515 37 - 42 4

2001 1029 194 220 637 37 3 66 7

2002 1149 230 229 550 60 2 69 9

2003 1237 242 245 598 77 4 59 12

2004 1355 267 268 652 82 6 58 22

2005* 1457 286 286 704 87 8 58 28

2006* 1572 306 306 764 92 10 58 36

2007* 1685 324 324 825 98 12 58 44

FACTFILE

HIGHEST CIRCULATING

Newspaper: Blesk (daily, 616,000)

Business magazineL: Podikani a Obchod (monthly, 120,000)

Consumer magazine: TV Magazin (weekly, 1,007,000)

Most-watched TV programme (2003): Nemocnice Na Kraji Mesta Po Dvaceti

Letech - drama series, "The Hospital in the Outskirts of the Town After

20 Years"

Best new TV format: Search for a Super

MAJOR LOCAL MEASUREMENT TOOLS

Circulation: Audit Bureau of Circulations

Readership Media Projekt, realised by GfK Praha and Median

TV viewing: Mediaresearch

TOP MEDIA OWNERS

Newspapers: Vltava Labe Press

Magazines: Stratosfera

Television: CT, TV Nova, TV Prima

LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour - CME's purchase of TV Nova.

Reigning media guru and why - Sebastian Pawlowski, the owner of Mediacop Publishing. He attracts the best people and invests in projects with long-term potential.

Media mogul to be seen dining with and why - Petr Dvorak, the chief executive of TV Nova. His ability to clinch a great deal is legendary.

Car to drive - Ferrari.

Top-selling beer brand - Pilsner Urquell.

Phone to carry - Sony Ericsson P900.

Whatever you do, don't say ... "No beer for me, thanks."

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