Ondřej Holomek

Ondřej Holomek

  • Charles University of Prague
Participant in 2009

Phd Projects

2009

Ministry of Information and its influence towards media

The Ministry of Information, founded in 1945, was an extraordinary state institution and original centre of power in Czechoslovak and Czech history. The Communists post-World War II proposals for the government programme outlined deep and far-reaching changes in political power and socio-economic areas, which amounted to a blueprint for building a new order. A component part of this structural change was the inception of a new ministry – the Ministry of Information – an ideological institution responsible for ideological education, enlightenment and promotion of government programme. The Communists delegated Václav Kopecký, a convinced Stalinist and ideologist educated in Moscow, to lead the institution. The initial period after World War II and the first post-war government election in Czechoslovakia, in 1946, is connected with the implementation of the Kosice Government Programme. The Ministry of Information organized many appeals and charitable collections via radio broadcasts and newspapers. In the meantime, the Ministry also systematically tightened control over the media. The results of the elections in 1946 corresponded to the expectation of the Communists, who won more than 40 percent of the vote, making them most powerful party in Parliament by a large margin. Based on the results of the May elections, the new government led by the Communist Klement Gottwald pronounced a new two-year programme, which was fully the intention of the Communist party. The second period, between May 1946 and Communist Coup in February 1948, was an era of accelerated changes, major legislative modifications, personal purges and the dissolution of potential alternative sources of power. Kopecky’s institution had a significant part in this process. The Ministry of Information made an exalted effort to restrict the whole media system in Czechoslovakia. Film making was nationalized in 1945, newspapers were placed under the Ministry’s control due to deliberately exaggerated paper crisis and radio broadcasting was controlled by Ministry of Information ‘plants’ who were titled to interfere in the broadcasting. The Ministry also issued media licences. Alternative opinions were disapproved of, as evil with a distorting influence and against the official governmental (communist) programme. In February 1948, parliamentary democracy in Czechoslovakia was overthrown by Communist system of one party rule. After the coup, there were two different sources of power established in Czechoslovakia. State institutions (the Prime Minister, government and particular institutions) were duplicated by party institutions (the General Secretary, the Central Committee, and the Party Secretariat). Both branches had leading ambitions and antagonistic relationships between the leading individuals. The Ministry of Information remained a part of the government structure, but its competency decreased. The Communists accomplished legislative changes affecting every part of a person’s life, including the media sector. Radio, newspapers, film and music production were nationalized and fully controlled by government and the Communist party.

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