Political TV Debates in the Czech Republic – from Bread Snacks to Sound Bites?
Otto Eibl, Barbora Petrová
Abstract: The paper deals with the topic of political TV debates in the Czech Republic, which political parties saw as the crucial feature when raising the awareness of voters in the 2010 general elections campaign and which has undergone major changes since the 1990 when they were introduced for the first time. Th e authors draw on the concepts of mediatisation of politics (Mazzoleni, Stromback and others), professionalization of
political communication (e.g., Holtz-Bacha, McNair) and other general theories on the role and importance of the TV as a medium. The paper also briefly introduces the history of the TV political debates from the US and the Western European perspective. When finding the answers to the question of ‘how the TV debates have changed in the Czech Republic since the 1989’ the major part of the paper will be an analytical description of the changes, which took place before the 2010 election campaign and which resulted in the stage we were able to witness in the last general elections campaign of 2010. The authors mainly focus on the changes in format of the debates, role of moderators as well as the content and style of this specific TV programme on Czech TV of public service using data from TV companies, the opinion research agency, CVVM and the Czech Statistical Office. The paper should provide a useful overview and inside outlook into the professionalization of the debates by the TV producers as well as by the politicians, which will demonstrate how content got lost on the way from the chat over beer and bread snacks “chlebicky” in the early nineties to the prescribed exchange of sound bites in the limited time as featured in the 2010 elections’ debates.
Keywords: Media and politics, TV, Political communication, Personalization