What will happen next with the distribution of Czech TV programs?

Currently, in Slovakia, we are dealing with the issue of the further distribution of Czech television programs. What will come next? Will we eliminate Hungarian, Austrian or Polish programs as well? The distribution and offering of foreign television programs is a professional topic that can easily turn into a political one, and according to the Telecommunications Union of the Slovak Republic (TÚSR), all those affected should sit down at a round table without unnecessary emotions and explain their positions.

In the dispute between televisions and operators, the TV viewer loses

The call of JOJ and Markíza televisions to block international programs broadcast by Czech television stations caused a wave of resentment and questions among their retransmitters - telecommunications operators, television viewers and the general public. Concerns about the situation have been expressed by Czech expatriate and cultural associations, and the Czech ambassador to Slovakia is interested in the situation too. The Antimonopoly Office of the Slovak Republic responded to the situation and is conducting an investigation into a possible violation of the provisions of the Act on the Protection of Economic Competition.

The Telecommunications Union of the Slovak Republic contacted the Council for Media Services (RpMS) and in an informal discussion they came to the conclusion that currently no legal obligation or decision of a competent body prevents operators from broadcasting Czech television programs for which they have settled copyright on the territory of the Slovak Republic. RpMS explained that until July 31, 2022, operators were obliged to provide retransmission of the program service only with the consent of its original broadcaster. In case of non-fulfillment of the obligation, it had the authority to sanction the operators. In the currently valid law, which is effective from August 1, 2022, this obligation is no longer included. The Act on Media Services does not establish any right of broadcasters that would allow them to impose the content of the program offer on retransmission operators.

The pressure to remove Czech programs from the offer is a dispute between television broadcasters and retransmission operators. In the meantime, the situation became more complicated, as one of the big operators decided to remove Czech programs and called on others to remove them as well. Some operators have decided to include a new, attractive program service in the offer in exchange for removing part of the Czech ones, others refuse to remove it.

A round table with the participation of television stations, operators and state authorities would contribute to solving the situation

In the past, RpMS already dealt with the issue of removing Czech program services from the offer of retransmission operators. The discussion at that time mainly consisted of the fact that some Czech broadcasters did not have the rights to distribute their program services outside the territory of the Czech Republic. RpMS has also currently declared that, if all relevant institutions and representatives of affected entities are interested, it is willing to organize a round table and, if necessary, to enter into the process of solving the situation from the position of a mediator. TÚSR subsequently approached the Association of Cable Television Operators (APKT) and during informal communication they came to an agreement that organizing a round table would contribute to clarifying attitudes, ambiguities and easing tension.