Czech Television breaks laws and discriminates against Czech independent film makersWritten by Andreas Kreuzer
Since 2011, the CT has been continually breaking the law regulating advertisement broadcasting. Not only are the licence fee payers bothered with advertisement but the millions of viewers can see every day how the big public institution explicitly breaks the law. Unitedfilm joins the cause to make CT stop unauthorized and adds that the public service medium abhors independent film, a category which is objectively being proven of higher qualities than the channel's own production. It rather prefers the expensive foreign acquisitions and supports non-transparent production outsourcing.
Since the midnight of 21st October 2011 the Czech Television should have ended its TV advertising on its CT1 and CT24 channels. The boys and girls from the Kavci Hory did indeed pull the advertising off for some time. Then they shook it off and started circumventing the law. They started broadcasting advertising disguised as program’s sponsorship. As if Czech Television didn’t get the licence fees. As if it wouldn’t have gotten almost 6 billion crowns each year from the citizens. According to the law, advertising is any public announcement broadcasted for money with the goal of promoting certain commercial good or services.
But, according to the Kverulant server, the fact that the proper fee payers are bothered by advertising which doesn't even spare children, is not the main problem. The main problem is that millions of viewers can see every day how a public institution explicitely breaks the law. What would a regular viewer take from this in regard of the need to abide the law?
On ČT2 the evening children’s cartoon Večerníček was surrounded by advertisement targeting children, despite it being forbidden., despite the law clearly stating that the advertisement must not encourage children to buy or loan anything while abusing their lack of experience or gullibility.
It is a big problem to deman justice in Czech land and this cause is a good case to illustrate that. This situation should be changed and in this specific case exist perhaps only two solutions. Either the Council works incorrectly and its decisions are wrongly explained by law, in which case it’s necessary to change its members. Or, the law doesn’t clearly limit the Council’s powers. In either case, the solution lies in the hands of the parliament which appoints the Council’s members.
Unestablished product placement
Czech Television did not pull the advertisement even after the years of exposing this fact. On the contrary, CT comes with a new way of circumventing the law. In 2015 there were 12 episodes of Auto Moto Revue made. Those started broadcasting in May 2015. The show Auto Moto Revue is the second oldest show broadcasted by CT. Currently it is shown weekly on CT2. Considering a huge motor show audience it belongs to the ten most viewed shows on Satuday on that channel. The show, however, is significantly unobjective. It can’t, considering its origin. The channel, besides making subtitles, doesn’t pay for the show’s production.
The show’s production is outsourced, the supplier being paid by the car manufacturers, garage door manufacturers and leasing companies. It is clear that these advertisers don’t do it in order to help CT to fulfill its tasks of a public service in accordance with the law. These advertisers do it to introduce their products in the possible light.
So it is all about a product placement. Product placement is acceptable only in cinematorgaphic works, films and TV shows created for broadcasting, in sport shows and entertainment shows, only on the condition of the products being a part of the show (possibly as prizes or props), as stated by the law. Shows containing product placement have to fulfill these conditions:
Their content and showtime must not be influenced in order to modify the editorial staff’s responsibility and/or the supplier’s independence.
They must not encourage directly to buying of the products or services, especially by specific mentioning of these with the intention to advertise.
They must not particularly stress any product placement.
All these principles mentioned above are constantly breached in Auto Moto Revue. The product placement orgy is not only limited to a carshow, though. The scene, in which a hockey expert Pavel Richter exits McDonald’s tent, carrying a plate full of food and offering a fry to his colleague, was a bit too much even for usually lenient Council for radio and television broadcasting (RRTV). RRTV fined this tasteless attempt to push the limits quite mercilessly back in October 2015. The offender had to pay 350.000 kc ($14200).
Waste and discrimination of Czech independent creators
Unitedfilm adds its own experience with the public service from the film maker's point of view, which is not the only one of such kind. It is an exemplary model of the conservative CT's treatment of the independent film makers in defiance to its own establishment. Ever since 1989 it created an impassable wall for the quality non-commercial film art, which could be its ideal addition and would generate significant saving of its financial resources.
In the last time CT, represented by the center of outsourced programs had refused two professional but non-profit thematically joined documentaries about the sculptors from the Hradec Kralove region, Harmonie Zivota (sculptor Petr Novak, recommended by Cinema Open 2015 film festival) and Remeslo nad umeni (restaurator-sculptor Hynek Blaha, the documentary of the year from the national film competition), which were offered as independent. Contrary to that, CT had broadcasted in 2008 a documentary Nepritelem osudu which was seen by 200 000 viewers and has abou 90% rating on CSDF. But not even this mark of quality helped, CT simply refused two quality films which would not cost it a dime.
Furthermore, dramaturg Josef Kvasnička noted that the films may be of quality but they don't fulfill Art programme's criteria, that CT buys 98% of the documentaries from abroad and that the head figures of the documentaries have to be well known and popular artists. The films, according to his own words, belong to the internet and recommended a form of co-production in the future, which, however, contradicts the spirit of free art. Even the employees took several months to answer after many reminders. It is a provocative mockery to all film makers, regional artists and the lincence payers - the viewers. Those of them who watch Art are interested in alternative art scene and not commercial products. And we could go on with our experiences. Artists like Hugo Habrman (awarded documentaries about Czech rivers) and Marek Jicha (cameraman and director of a documentary about Karel Hasler) could also have their say in this matter, not to speak of many others.
You might think that the law has to be abided and that its breaking in live broadcast is highly harmful. Public service company Kverulant and non-profit organization Unitedfilm ask for a support of this cause, which faces an opponent possessing significant media influent and incredible budget.