Prague - A week after PM Mirek Topolánek's cabinet lost the no-confidence vote, Czech lawmakers would like to know what was said in an undercover interview with Marek Dalík, a lobbyist and aide to Topolánek.
The footage, recorded by Czech public service television, never went on air. Dalík is believed to have put pressure on Czech TV (ČT) not to air the report. Apparently, in the interview he had said sensitive things about MP Petr Wolf who defected from the Social Democratic Party and supported since the ruling coalition.
It was this undercover report that set in motion the collapse of Topolánek's cabinet. Social Democrats did not like the fact that an investigative report revealing Wolf's dubious financial activities would not be aired.
Now the lawmakers called on the Czech TV to disclose the entire interview with Dalík. But the institution refuses to do so.
"Czech public service television has nothing to hide and the whole footage of Bártek's interview with Dalík does not contain any fundamental information that would relate to the topics debated in the Chamber of Deputies these days," ČT spokesperson Ladislav Šticha said.
"Therefore ČT cannot publish these recordings. It would violate the ČT Guidelines ratified by the Chamber of Deputies," said Šticha.
It is important to note that the Guidelines allow publishing undercover recordings only in a report for which they were recorded.
Furthermore, ČT stressed that it cannot publish private information about Marek Dalík.
"Czech TV can air only those parts of undercover reports that relate to a given topic. Czech TV undertakes to prevent any abuse of the unused parts of the undercover footage," say the ČT Guidelines.
Typical lobbyist's behavior
Dalík asked ČT reporter Bártek to stop investigating rebel MP Wolf who has allegedly embezzled millions of crowns from the Environment Ministry. Petr Wolf is the thorn in the eye of the opposition Social Democrats, since he has supported the ruling coalition in a number of key votes. They are firmly convinced that he was bribed by the Civic Democrats.
In the undercover interview Dalík admitted that he was helping Wolf based on Topolánek's request. Topolánek confessed that he had asked Dalík to help Wolf but he alleged he did not know what steps were taken.
However, Marek Dalík insists he has not done "anything unlawful".
"If I threatened the reporter (Bártek) or if I wanted to bribe him, that would be a bad thing. But all he published was that I asked him not to air the interview," Dalík explained Hospodářské noviny why a media bubble about his meeting with the reporter erupted.
"He (Bártek) assured me about ten times that he was not recording the interview and that our conversation was private," he added.
Media representatives have said that lobbyists often act this way, trying to influence media and there is nothing to be surprised about Dalík's case.