Brno - CET 21, the company that runs Czech commercial TV station Nova, will have to pay a hefty penalty for airing footage including abusive language, alcohol consumption and rude behaviour in an episode of Big Brother.
In its first-ever ruling on a TV reality show, the Constitutional Court rejected the channel's appeal against a CZK 500,000 fine.
Nova was originally handed 37 fines totalling CZK 43.3 million for improper content in one of the first episodes of the series. Some of the fines were later annulled by a municipal court.
The CZK 500,000 fine was issued by the Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting. "We have discovered improper forms of communication, vulgarity, rudeness including physical violence, inciting to theft by the contest organisers, and frequent presentation of smoking and alcohol consumption by some of the participants," the council wrote in its verdict.
Courts cite public interest
Nova turned to the Constitutional Court after the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) turned down its previous appeal. The channel complained that its right of free expression and fair trial had been violated.
The court also rejected CET 21's request to abolish a clause in the radio and TV broadcasting law that bans, between 6am and 10pm, the airing of content that may pose threat to the development of children and youth. Under the clause, a broadcaster may be fined up to CZK 10 million for non-compliance.
The Constitutional Court upheld the NSS's verdict, according to which the existing law serves a public interest, and said the verdict is in no conflict with the constitutional rights and freedoms.