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Panel Fails To Dismiss TV Director

January 8, 2001

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) _ Czech Television’s new director, whose appointment triggered nationwide protests, has refused to step down _ defying a parliamentary resolution calling for his resignation, a station official said Monday.

Station director Jiri Hodac ``told me last night he won’t resign, and I don’t see any reason why he would change his mind today,″ said Jana Bobosikova, head of the public broadcaster’s news department.

The Czech Television Council, which supervises the country’s air ways, met Monday but failed to decide Hodac’s fate. Over the weekend, the lower house of parliament had adopted a resolution urging the council to fire him if he refused to quit.

The chairman of the council, Miroslav Mares, said that only two of the council’s eight members attending voted to include the director’s fate on the agenda.

The development meant Hodac would likely retain his position at least for the next few months, until a new supervisory body is created by the Parliament and the new body decides to dismiss or keep him.

On Dec. 20, the council appointed Hodac as station director, triggering outrage among the news staff, who claim the appointment was politically biased because Hodac is too close to former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. Hodac has denied any political bias.

About 40 journalists have holed up in the newsroom since Dec. 20, demanding that Hodac quit and preventing him from taking over the station. About 100,000 people flocked to Prague’s Wenceslas Square last Wednesday to demand Hodac’s resignation.

Hodac, meanwhile, has been hospitalized in intensive care since he collapsed at his home Thursday, apparently from exhaustion.

The lower chamber of parliament is scheduled to vote Friday on an amendment to the Czech Television law. The amendment would change the way the station’s supervisory body is appointed and should give it more independence from political parties.

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