New Czech TV chief: Bold plans and Voyo contract review

Jan Souček
Photo: Czech TV/Enhanced with Adobe Firefly

Jan Souček, the newly appointed director general of Czech Television (CT), has a clear vision for the future of the public broadcaster. His term of office begins on 1 October 2023, and he is already outlining ambitious plans for the broadcaster.

Souček believes that the definition of public service needs to be updated to reflect the rapid development of the broadcasting industry. He is a proponent of the German model of television fees, where every household with an electricity connection pays, regardless of whether they own a receiver.

The future director is interested in the public's opinion on whether investing in increasingly expensive licences for sports or Olympic coverage is a fundamental public service value. He also emphasises the need to quickly resolve the funding issue and adapt to new forms of signal distribution.

Souček proposes rapid digitisation of all components of the CT archive and their perfect indexing for easy access. He also sees a need to focus on news production for mobile platforms. He even suggests that CT, Czech Radio and the Czech News Agency should join forces to launch a joint public mobile news platform in 2025.

The future director believes that the programming of CT channels should be bolder and more targeted. He would like to see more public affairs programmes, documentaries and productions for children and young people. He also suggests that crime dramas with a social overlap should be produced.

Souček believes that CT should pay more attention to marginalised regions in the Ústí and Karlovy Vary regions in a mix of programme formats, from documentaries and public affairs to unconventional programmes. He also promises to increase the proportion of premieres in the regional studios' statutory share of broadcasting to around 50% by the end of his term.

The future director criticises the current practice of regional studio directors not being part of the Programme Council, which approves programmes for production and broadcast. He also believes that CT would be able to black out fewer passages in contracts due to trade secrets.

Souček is cautious about cooperation with streaming services. He sees a lot of question marks in co-producing with streaming platforms and would not approach it on such a scale. He believes that if CT shares its premiere production with its competitors, it will be depriving itself of one of the tools to make its own VOD service, iVysílání, as attractive as possible.

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