|Senator of the Czech Republic
|Preceded by||Milan Špaček|
|Succeeded by||Milan Špaček|
|Member of the European Parliament|
13 March 1945 |
Samara, Soviet Union (now Russia)
|Political party||Libertas.cz (2009- )
Independent Democrats (Czech Republic) (2004-2009)
|Alma mater||Charles University|
Vladimír Železný (born 3 March 1945 in Samara, Soviet Union) is a media businessman and politician in the Czech Republic. He was the first CEO of TV NOVA, a popular Czech television station and was a member of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2009. As a media mogul with political influence, he has been compared to Rupert Murdoch and Silvio Berlusconi.
In 1993 he applied with five others for a license to broadcast a private television channel to show classical music, cultural programmes and current affairs. He obtained a €140m investment from the American firm, Central European Media Enterprises (CME) to fund the enterprise. Due to the Czech Media Council's rules against foreign ownership, the license was granted to a company controlled by Železný - CET21 - which, with the legal assistance of Miroslav Šipovič  signed a licensing agreement with a joint venture partly owned by CME. In February 1994 he launched TV NOVA which became the most popular network, although it was criticised as undermining the cultural tradition of Czechs.
In 1999 CET21 terminated the licensing agreement, effectively seizing control of the station and making CME's investment worthless. Subsequently some 20 suits started in front of the Czech courts and international tribunals. While the CME (at the time incorporated in Netherlands and controlled by American national Ronald Lauder) started UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings against the Czech Republic (in Stockholm) under the Bilateral investment treaty between the Czech Republic and Netherlands, Ronald Lauder himself started UNCITRAL arbitration proceedings against the Czech Republic (in London) under the Bilateral investment treaty between the Czech Republic and the USA. While the London tribunal dismissed the claim by Lauder, the Stockholm tribunal, effectively dealing with the same issue, found the Czech Republic liable for not protecting the CME's investment in the Czech Republic and awarded CME damages of $270 million, which were eventually paid from taxpayers' money. Under a different arbitration award, Železný was to pay damages of $23 million. CME also eventually regained control of the channel.
It was reported that police suspect him of selling property and making a speculative agreement with a Liechtenstein company to avoid paying this debt. In 2007 he was convicted of failing to pay the customs duty on some paintings he had imported in 2001, fined €250,000 and given a suspended jail sentence.
In 2001 he was publicly arrested and charged with tax evasion and defrauding creditors in connection with the Nova company. In 2003 the Senate voted to lift his immunity to allow the police to investigate and in 2005 the European Parliament followed suit.
In 2002, Železný was elected to the Czech Senate for the Znojmo circuit. Analysts said he selected the seat based on the high ratings of TV Nova and high rates of unemployment and said he was "widely suspected" of seeking election only to secure parliamentary immunity.
In 2004 he was elected to the European Parliament. He founded the Independent Democrats (Nezávislí demokraté) in 2005 and was elected its chairman. In 2006 he unsuccessfully sought election to the Chamber of Deputies.
In 2008 he told Prague Radio he was a "fierce eurosceptic" and said the European Union was "an over-regulated environment which strongly resembles what we know from our communist past" In 2009 he launched Libertas.cz.
In May 2009 the Prague High Court upheld a two-year suspended sentence with a four-year probation for Mr. Železný. He was found guilty of tax evasion in case import of paintings in 1998.
- Sun sets for man who gave Czechs the naked weathergirls, The Independent, 2001-04-24, accessed on 2009-01-22
- Der Fernseh-Politiker (The TV-Politician), (German), Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, 2002-12-18, accessed on 2009-01-22
- Jakl, René (2009) The many faces of Železný The Prague Tribune p. 93
- Czech Libertas recruit has conviction for evading duty, Irish Times, 2009-01-22
- Dimsey, Mariel (2009) The resolution of international investment disputes: challenges and solutions Eleven International Publishing p. 93
- Zelezny case highlights imperfections in parliamentary immunity law, Český rozhlas, 2003-01-29, accessed on 2009-01-22
- CME/Lauder vs. Czech Republic - Case Comment & Introductory Note, Thomas Wälde, 2003-06-01, accessed on 2009-01-22
- The European Parliament has decided to strip Czech MEP Vladimir Zelezny of immunity, Český rozhlas, 2005-10-13, accessed on 2009-01-22
- Constitution Watch - A country-by-country update on constitutional politics in Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR, East European Constitutional Review (a joint publication of the New York University School of Law and the Central European University), 2002-12-01, accessed on 2009-01-22
- Zynischer Populist ohne politische Überzeugung (Cynical populist with no political ideology) (German), die tageszeitung, 2004-06-14, accessed on 2009-01-22
- Court upholds conditional sentence for Czech MEP Zelezny
- Personal website
- Curriculum by Vladimír Vaďura (Czech)
- http://nezdem.cz – Železný's latest (2005) political party (Czech)
- European political group at the European Parliament http://indemgroup.org/
Media, articles, case studies
- Zelezny says he was offered higher preferences for bribe, praguemonitor.com/ČTK, 27 Mar 2006
- EP-Abgeordneter Vladimír Železný in Prag vor Gericht, tschechien-online.org, 31 Jan 2006 (German)
- Vladimír Zelezny: Der Medienboss, arte-tv.com, 6 Oct 2005 (German)
- Czech Mate: CME and Vladimir Zelezny, Harvard Business Online, 10 Feb 2004
- Mejstřík opět navrhl slyšení o TV Nova, senátoři jej znovu zamítli (Senator Martin Mejstřík tries again to initiate Senate hearing on TV Nova), cestazmeny.cz (Cesta změny), 23 May 2003 (Czech)
- Mejstřík inicioval veřejné slyšení ve věci arbitráže Novy (Senator Martin Mejstřík trying to hold public hearing to seek recovery of funds), cestazmeny.cz, 18 Apr 2003 (Czech)