Czech Radio (Český rozhlas, CRo) is the public radio broadcaster in Czechia. In operation since 1923, it is the oldest radio in continental Europe and the second oldest in Europe after BBC. The station runs four nationwide services (Radiožurnál, Dvojka, Vltava and Plus), 14 regional channels and an international service in foreign languages that caters to audiences abroad.

Media assets

Radio: National- Radiožurnál, Dvojka, Vltava, Plus, ČRo Radio Wave, ČRo D-Dur, ČRo Jazz, ČRo Rádio Junior, ČRo Rádio Retro; International- Radio Prague International; Regional- ČRo Brno, ČRo České Budějovice, ČRo Hradec Králové, ČRo Karlovy Vary, ČRo Liberec, ČRo Olomouc, ČRo Ostrava, ČRo Pardubice, ČRo Plzeň, ČRo Rádio DAB Praha, ČRo Region, ČRo Vysočina, ČRo Sever, ČRo Zlín

State Media Matrix Typology: Captured Public/State-Managed (CaPu)

Ownership and governance

Czech Radio is governed as Czech Television. Czech Radio was established through the Czech Radio Act of 1991 as a public corporation providing a public radio service, independent from the state and accountable to the public. The main governance structure at Czech Radio is the Czech Radio Council, which consists of nine members appointed by the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech Parliament, based on nominations submitted by civil society organizations. Politicians and public office holders are barred from being appointed.

The station also has a Supervisory Commission, consisting of five members elected by the Council from among people with expertise in management and finances. The Supervisory Commission’s main job is to monitor the financial performance of the broadcaster to ensure it operates effectively and efficiently. The commission informs the council about its findings (especially problems that need to be remedied).

The Director General of the station is appointed by the Council.

Source of funding and budget

According to the Czech Radio Act, the Czech Radio is financed through a combination of license fee (paid by all Czech homes) and commercial activities. According to a Czech Radio annual report, in 2022, the broadcaster operated with a total budget of CZK 2.2bn (US$ 91.8m). License fee generated over 92% of that, the rest coming from commercial revenues (mainly sales of ads). The law strictly limits the time that Czech Radio can use to fill with commercials. Homes are obliged by law to pay a fee of CZK 45 (US$ 2) a month to finance the country’s public radio.

Editorial independence

There are no obligations imposed by the authorities on the editorial agenda of Czech Radio that would encroach upon its editorial independence (on the contrary, there are statutes and legal obligations meant to secure the broadcaster’s independence). Attempts by politicians or state bodies to influence the editorial coverage of the station are made from time to time, but they have not been very often successful in affecting the station’s independence. In most such cases, Czech Radio reporters have vigorously pushed back.

In recent years, however, evidence of censorship and editorial pressures on journalists has grown at Czech Radio. In one development, Czech Radio intervened in an advertisement of a new media outlet, Forum weekly, that was sent to the radio station to be aired as agreed. Taking advice from Czech Radio’s lawyers, the station’s management claimed, the radio broadcaster removed the characterization of the Forum weekly as a media outlet “independent of billionaires”. Czech Radio argued that the slogan was a “subjective assessment”. A case of editorial interference with publicity material is unheard of in any free media market.

In another major case, Czech Radio refused to air a podcast about an investigation into what turned out to be a deeply flawed justice system in Czechia although it was Czech Radio that had commissioned the report years before It appears that various managers at the radio station had connections with people in the justice system and that the broadcaster even cooperated in one of its programs with a crime expert whose work was criticized by the investigation. The story inspired an academic article that analyzed the censorship at Czech Radio.

The Czech Radio Code is a domestic statute that requires the broadcaster’s staff to do their work independently, laying down a set of requirements in the area of radio broadcasting that are binding on the station’s staff.

The oversight role at the Czech Radio is played by the Czech Radio Council. The Council can make suggestions for changes to the General Director who has the liberty to implement them or not.

Czech Radio also has an Ethics Commission, an advisory body to the CEO of Czech Radio. Its main task is to assess the work of Czech Radio from an ethical and legal point of view to ensure it fulfills its public service mission. The Commission has five members who are appointed and dismissed by the Czech Radio CEO. They usually come from a variety of professional fields. The Secretary of the commission is the Ombudsman of Czech Radio.

October 2023