Czech Republic Community Broadcasting Proposal

A 3rd sector of alternative community broadcasting does not exist on terrestrial airwaves in the Czech Republic. To many observers, advocates, and citizens this is an obvious shortcoming of the development of a pluralistic democratic society. So if indeed community broadcasting were to considered in the Czech Republic, what would it look like, and how could it be implemented?

Here's a turn-key solution provided by RadioExpert, recently revised for more clarity and effectiveness.

First a new media law addendum recognizing and legalizing the community broadcasting sector, complete with detailed directives for implementation, regulation and operation. Second a comprehensive plan for deployment and support for a new community broadcasting sector for towns and cities across the country.

Based on best practices gleaned for media law and policy from around the world, we propose that lawmakers in the Czech Republic seriously consider this proposal for the development of a true, sustainable alternative media sector, enabling citizens real participation in vibrant Czech democracy. The proposal is detailed below.


Proposal for Legislation establishing a new Community Broadcasting Sector in the Czech Republic



>Community Broadcasting is not-for-profit, audio-visual services provided by and for a local community on terrestrial and wired delivery systems.



>Inform the community about issues, activities, and events

>Provide access and participation

>Strengthen local communities

>Promote local arts & culture

>Serve marginalized and underserved groups

>Provide discourse for civil society and promote active citizenship

>Independent media watchdog role

>Improve media literacy

>Development of employment skills



>Not-for-profit social enterprise

>Local community-based

>Volunteer supported

>Open to all voices


>Alternative to the mainstream



>RRTV endorses and implements the "Community Media Sector General Plan" licensing mandates.



>Not-for-profit civic associations, public benefit corporations, churches, schools (all must have DIC); no individuals

>Must be transparent & registered for min 1 year; Consortiums are welcome if at least 50% of partner orgs have min 1 year legal registration; min 50% of board members must live in the designated coverage area; Board members must be volunteer

>No owners, licensees, board members or salaried employees of commercial media, elected officials, or political party officials may be board members or salaried employees.


Application Process

>Temporary Service License (TSL) - max 60 days; no funding available (CapEx expenditures applicable for re-imbursement under guidelines if full-term license granted); max 2 TSL's per applicant/ year

>Standard license: 6 year term,  award licenses in open competitions among eligible community non-profit orgs utilizing points system; then open renewal competition with current license holder given points for effective operation;

>Applicant must submit a standardized "License Applicant General Plan" containing proposed business plan, budget, technical plan, social gain plan, access & participation plan, volunteer plan, and program output plan.

>License is non-transferable; must be re-allocated by RRTV



>Licensee must keep a "public file" of relevant information relating to the delivery of their key commitments that must be available for inspection within 2 business days of any written citizens' request

>Licensee must adhere to the terms and conditions set forth in approved license application

>Upon repeated, deliberate and/or serious breach of the terms of its license conditions or RRTV codes by licensee, RRTV may impose sanctions including fines, restrictions and/or cancellation of license. The penalty must be appropriate and proportionate to the breach for which it is imposed.

>Licensee must submit to RRTV a standardized "Annual Licensee General Report" with P&L, balance sheet, public file, technical report, social gain report, participation & access report, volunteer report, updated business plan/budget and tax filing; due according to gov’t fiscal year deadlines.

>Licensee must maintain a minimum ratio of volunteer hours to paid staff (1 volunteer hour for each 1.000kc of salary)

>Salaries may not exceed 50% of total expenses



>The fair and comprehensive journalistic coverage of community activities, concerns and issues.

>No advertising: including no call to action, specific items, prices, or offers

>Paid sponsorship announcements maximum 15 seconds length; maximum 8 announcements per hour

>Clearly distinguish sponsorship from regular program content

>Minimum 50% of total output must be original content from licensee facilities

>Maximum 20% of total output from network programs

>Ensure that reasonable efforts are made to correct substantial errors of fact at the earliest possible opportunity


Technical Specifications

>RRTV endorses and implements the "Community Media Sector General Plan" technical mandates.

>RRTV, and/or external providers to analyze spectrum (analogue and digital), identify available frequencies, and provide access to those frequencies

>"Must Carry" rules apply to all platforms

>Ceske Kommunikace, private tower, multiplex, IP, telephone network and cable systems operators guarantee special non-profit access rates in negotiation with RRTV & CMA

>"Platform Neutral" policy applies to all platforms

>Allocated frequencies shall fulfill coverage mandates


Regulatory Roles

>RRTV responsible for the successful deployment of the "Community Media Sector General Plan"

>Separate RRTV sections for licensing, technical, funding

>No implicit obligation is attached to "structural" funding, and requirements for any management decisions or program output by any government agency (state or local) other than RRTV is prohibited. Agreements related to "project" funding are subject to separate rules and regulations of the appropriate ministries.

>Government ministries are responsible for developing and executing project-based funding initiatives which comply with RRTV licensing regulations



>RRTV endorses and implements the "Community Media Sector General Plan" funding mandates.

>Due to it's important role in civil society, community media could be funded directly from the TV/Radio tax, or from the General Fund.

>Both state and local gov’t funding is mandated (no option out) upon license approval and subsequent annual endorsement by RRTV.

>All structural funding must be in accordance with the approved "Applicant General Plan"


Capital Expenditures

>Capital Expenditure fund (CapEX) available only at the start of full-term license; licensee submits "License Applicant Capital Expenditure Plan" for approval; one amendment permitted; expires after 18 months; 80% gov't (state & local combined) 20% matching funds required.


Operating Expenditures

>Operating Expense fund(OpEx) available each year subject to approval of required documentation by RRTV; 80% (state & local combined) 20% match


Project-Based Funding

>Project funding directly from ministries for specially designed projects utilizing CM; 20% match required; application approval/ terms & conditions autonomous to each ministry

>Project funding requires separate P&L; no salaries or CapEx; limits on travel spending; volunteer minimums apply; 20% match (donated labor OK); activities report included in Licensee Annual General report


Community Media Association

>RRTV endorses and implements the "Community Media Sector General Plan" mandate for the Community Media Association.

>Non-Profit org with volunteer elected board, paid president and staff person.

>Subject to same CapEx/OpEx funding requirements, including 20% match

>Submit "CMA Annual General Report" with P&L, balance sheet, public file, technical report, social gain report, participation & access report, tax filing; due according to gov’t fiscal year deadlines

>Responsible for liaison with government and bureaucracies - especially RRTV, participate in media and telecommunications policy discourse, cooperate with other media sectors and stakeholders, promote good practice by providing tools, training, exchange and awards, research important trends in technology and innovation, organize annual congress & conference, communicate information internally and externally, cooperate with community media groups worldwide.