Czech MPs Vote that Government Officials May Not Own Media

Media mogul and Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has a problem after Czech MPs approve the “Lex Babiš” law he claims is solely directed at him

Dave Park

Written by Dave Park Published on 14.09.2016 13:44:56 (updated on 14.09.2016) Reading time: 1 minute

It’s official: Czech MPs have approved the so-called “Lex Babiš” law, which will prevent government officials from owning more than a 25% stake in Czech media corporations.

Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, who claims the law is solely directed at him, currently has a controlling interest in local media house MAFRA through his majority stake in its owner, Agrofert.

MAFRA’s publications include Mladá fronta DNES, Lidové noviny, Metro, and others. Babiš’ holdings also include Óčko TV and Radio Impuls.

The Finance Minister did not take part in the debate, but made his opinions on the matter clear.

“They are desperate, and do not know how the world works,” the Finance Minister said as he watched the results of the vote on a computer screen in the hallway, reports

“It’s a law that denies all entrepreneurs the right to engage in politics,” he earlier said

Other MPs, obviously, did not share his opinion.

“We took an important step in defense of democracy and against the oligarchy,” said TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek.

Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier: “It’s one of the priorities of the government in the fight against corruption.”

The Finance Minister’s stake in local media has long been a subject of controversy, and not just within the Czech Republic.

“Now the Czechs Have an Oligarch Problem, Too,” reads a headline in an Foreign Policy from last year

Politico called Babiš “The Czech Donald Trump.” 

Forbes currently estimates Babiš’ net worth at $2.8 billion (USD), making him their 688th richest person in the world and the 2nd-richest in the Czech Republic after Petr Kellner.

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