Czech broadcasters sees Church close-up

Between 7 million and 8 million viewers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia will get a close-up view of the Church through the eyes of two broadcasters who visited Salt Lake City May 10-25 at the invitation of the Church.

Hosted by the Church Public Affairs Department were Premysl Cech, a television news reporter for Czechoslovak Television, and Radim Smetana, a producer of cultural programming for the broadcasting company.Mr. Cech, who works primarily on the foreign desk, hosts a Sunday-morning news and documentary program seen throughout the formerly communist country.

"This program shows very different things from all countries all over the world," he explained. "We usually have about five reports in this program from five different countries, but from time to time we prepare a special program which [focuses onT only one thing. So I want to prepare such a program about Mormons' life-style, about the Mormon Church, and so on."

Referring to the revolutionary changes that have taken place in his country during the last three years, Mr. Cech said a program about the Church would be useful for his viewers.

"We want to show some things which have been, up to this time, prohibited," he said. "Because we have no information about the Mormon Church in the Czech Republic, we want to show what Mormons are and what they do. It's very interesting to show our people different types of thinking."

Furthermore, he noted, as the society shifts from a socialistic to a free-market economy, the people must learn to live under new conditions. "It's important to know the life-style of the Mormons," he explained, "because money and property are not the most important things in life, but other things, such as values and manner of thinking, are more important."

Mr. Smetana said he first made contact with the Church in 1990 when the Tabernacle Choir toured eastern Europe and broadcast a concert in Prague. At the time, he formed some associations which led to the broadcast of three subsequent choir programs over Czech television, and ultimately the trip to Salt Lake City.

Featuring the cultural aspect of the Church and Salt Lake City, he said, demonstrates that Czech society can retain a cultural component without cultural affairs being controlled by the state as they were previously.

"I like the city very much," he commented. "It's absolutely clean, and I even like the position, with the city down and the mountains up. It looks really beautiful. The people are nice looking and smile all the time. What I can't understand is how in a desert this could be done. This is really miraculous for me."

Mr. Cech said viewers will probably be interested to find that the western United States does not resemble the "wild west" stereotype often portrayed in motion pictures.

He said his program will be broadcast in June. The cultural program being prepared by Mr. Smetana will be presented on a date as yet undetermined.

Assisting the broadcasters and facilitating contacts was a Salt Lake video and television producer Peter Semelka, himself a native of Czechoslovakia.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed