Mapping Digital Media: Czech Republic

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The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.

In the Czech Republic, digital switch-over of television was completed in 2012, bringing expanded choice and services to the majority of households that rely on the terrestrial platform. It followed a transition period in which political stagnation and conflict among regulatory authorities impeded the development of a clear legislative framework and delayed digitization by almost a decade.

Since the completion of the digital switch-over, media policy has fallen further down the list of political priorities. While this has enhanced the autonomy of regulators to some extent, it has also left a policy vacuum in key areas that warrant intervention.

Overall, neither the digital switch-over nor the development of online platforms has diversified the overall news offer in a substantive and meaningful way. Competition in digital terrestrial television—still the dominant news platform—has stagnated, while both print media and new citizen journalist initiatives are facing a crisis of funding that has transcended the economic downturn. As a result, there has been a marked, if varying, trend toward tabloidization and a pressing need to sustain outposts of serious and quality news in all sectors.