History of Television Around the World - Eastern Europe

About the history of television in the world and in Eastern Europe, the U.S.S.R., Czech TV and more.

Television around the World


Television has become commonplace in Eastern European homes, with a ratio of one set to every 6 people. It is State-controlled in the U.S.S.R. satellite countries, managed by broadcasting councils made up of representatives from the trade unions, State officials, and professionals from the fields of journalism, the theater, and broadcasting. Nearly all the countries rely heavily on license fees, with a limited amount of income from advertising (usually 2 or 3 5-minute blocs are allowed between early evening shows) to fatten their budgets.

"Citizen's Forum," a series originally developed in preinvasion Czechoslovakia, is appearing all over Eastern Europe. The original Czech program devoted an hour and a half regularly to debates that pitted government ministers and experts against a studio audience, with a half-hour follow-up the next week. Time and again, a minister proved to be totally ignorant of the subject he was supposed to control: Bureaucracy was unmasked. As Jiri Pelikan, the director of Czech TV from 1963 until the Russian invasion, put it: "It was a scandal. Here were ministers revealed on television as being quite incapable of government."

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