CZECHIA. Critical junctures in the media transformation process.



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There are several critical junctures that arise from the context of the social, political, economic, and technological developments within the media in Czechia between 2000 and 2020. We identify these seven: (1) the consequences of the social transformation after 1989, which lasted until the beginning of the 21st century; (2) the emergence of new media, whose production and user development occurred mainly after the year 2000; (3) the economic crisis in 2008; (4) the emergence of new political movements after 2011; (5) the refugee crisis in 2015; (6) the polarisation of society; and (7) the pandemic of Covid-19 as a complex phenomenon after 2019. With focus on the agency of different actors in propelling certain risks and opportunities at the outlined critical junctures, these are the groups with either specific knowledge of the Czech media development or with a long professional history: (1) media industry representatives (e.g., media owners, media managers, journalists, journalists’ professional unions); (2) communication researchers and lecturers; (3) media analysts and analytical companies; and (4) NGOs. As shown by our analysis of the Czech media system between 2000 and 2020, the critical junctures, risks, and opportunities, have not contributed to the development of deliberative communication and democracy in Czechia. On the contrary, we conclude that the changes just after 2000 led to an illiberal turn that stems from the social, political, economic, and technological development of both society and the media system.