Newspoem 18 January 2001

Czech TV
for Simon Kos


and now for the evening
poem about events in the

listen you
think you

we interrupt this poem
to bring you this

know about
free speech

news broadcast composed
entirely by scabs

we had
soviet television

after this
political message


Yes, that is exactly the problem with government-run television: it is apt to become a propaganda tool of the ruling party. That is why you must privatize the television station as you have so many other government functions, to free it from political control.

Funny you should say that, given that your public television is sponsored by Exxon. PBS ran a  program on the global economy and human rights. On some stations. At 11 PM Sunday evening.

My point exactly: government-run television is apt to reflect the opinions of the ruling party. Wait, that wasn't my point.

You have never obtained freedom of speech, so you do not fear losing it. You think the interests of the government are separate from those of the media companies. Television is entertainment to you.

Well, now, that's not true: we can say anything we want in America. Well, now, that's not true: we can say anything we want in America.

We see government as a bulwark against a flood. Whereas you are not aware you are underwater.





the new
director is

the man who
was guilty of

he's NOT

affiliated with
our party


So let me get this straight: Czech Public TV Director General Dusan Chmelicek called for a forensic audit of the office of the Brno regional television station, and, when indeed the audit revealed that Brno Regional Director Zdenek Drahos and his people in management rented out facilities or plots of the station without the consent of the Czech Television Council, had close connections to Brno businesses receiving commissions from the TV station without a prior public call for candidates (and without a contract), and were broadcasting hidden advertising, director Chmelicek recommended that the Czech Television Council fire Drahos, to which suggestion the Council responded by firing instead Chmelicek, quickly replacing him with Civic Democratic Party affiliate Jiri Hodak, who then promoted (the accused) Drahos to Program Director of the central Prague station. Then the reporters at the Prague station, refusing to recognize the new management, staged a sit-in strike and barricaded themselves in the production studio, where there was no restroom, no water, no food; and then (and this is just unbelievable to me), the police did not go in and drag them out, but simply surrounded the station so nobody who left could get back in, and the public brought the striking television workers baskets of  food and jugs of water and tied them to ropes the workers lowered from the windows of the studio. And the workers continued to produce broadcasts, and the management jammed those transmissions and substituted programming of their own.

It's just politics as usual. I'm too tired to think about it.

And the ensuing protests were larger than any Prague had seen since the fall of Communism in 1989 (a euphoric time when limousines converged on prisons to escort the dissidents to political office). Even members of the lower house of Parliament, president Havel, and numerous prominent artists and scientists called for the resignation of the director, the board, and a set of new laws (already drafted) to protect more effectively the public television from influence by the ruling elite, until finally Hodak collapsed from exhaustion and resigned for health reasons.




the air

Newspoetry at Spineless Books