Prague - Czech Television will not be penalized for having its broadcast penetrated by an art-guerilla group which made the unsuspecting viewers of a morning television show believe they just witnessed a nuclear explosion, live on TV.
The ingeniously called Ztohoven group (a play on words which can either mean "Out of that" or "A hundred turds") hatched and successfully executed a plan to hijack the Panorama morning show on Czech TV last June.
The idea behind Panorama, which is essentially an automated sequence of slow panoramic views taken from a number of fixed cameras positioned all over the country, is to showcase the beauty of the landscape and thus promote tourism.
Ztohoven had clearly other goals in mind when they skillfully substituted the live feed from one of the cameras in Černý Důl in the Krkonoše Mountains area in the north-east Bohemia with their own pre-recorded video-sequence where the idyllic valley vistas were enriched by the digitally created atomic bomb explosion.
As a result of this, Czech Television was in danger of being penalized for violating the law which calls for its programs to be balanced and objective. Maximum penalty for such a transgression is several million Czech Crowns.
The state Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting finally decided this week that a mere warning to the national broadcaster will suffice.
Police in Trutnov, near the place of the virtual bomb blast, showed less understanding for the prank and charged seven members of the art-guerilla group with the criminal offense of disseminating alarming information.
"Five of the accused were complicit in the preparation of a frustrated attack on the Panorama show camera and some of them were part of the following successful attempt which resulted in the bomb blast images being broadcast on TV," said Trutnov police investigating officer Petr Čížek last month.
All of the accused are denying that it was their intention to cause panic or harm the public broadcaster. All they wanted to do, they say, was to highlight how powerful media are and what possibilities they have to manipulate the public's perception of reality.