The new director of public Czech Television resigned on Thursday, giving in to heavy pressure from the station's striking staff who accused him of political bias. A planned demonstration against Jiri Hodac, appointed by the Czech Television Council on December 20, turned to a jubilant celebration as tens of thousands gathered in Wencelas Square, site of the "Velvet Revolution" which overthrew Communism. The lower house of parliament was due to meet on Friday to consider sacking the council and to rush through a legal change under which a new council would be appointed on recommendations from civic groups, not politicians.
Czech purchases over the Internet will rise to $1 billion by 2004 from just $40 million last year as consumers shop more online and businesses cut costs by buying online, according to market researcher IDC Corp.
The Czech koruna weakened further against the euro on Thursday, hitting its lowest level since October 19 when a major koruna sale pushed it through the 34.50 mark. In early afternoon trading the koruna was at 35.45 to the European currency before recovering slightly to 35.25 from the yesterday morning's 35.17 and from 35.10 late Wednesday. The koruna/dollar stood at 37.08 from 37.31 in the morning and from 37.33 late Wednesday.
Czech bonds soared, pushing the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond to a half-month low, after the central bank governor said the bank might hold off on raising its key interest rate this year. The benchmark 10-year, 6.4 percent bond rose half a point to 97.55, after a similar gain yesterday. That pushed the bond's yield down 8 basis points to 6.75 percent. The government bond maturing in 2005 rose 0.45 point to 101.80, pushing its yield down 12 basis points to 6.24 percent, its lowest since the start of June. Czech National Bank Governor Zdeněk Tůma said at an International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington that the bank might keep its key interest rates unchanged this year, though it can change its view depending on the development in the world economy.