Kocian Solc Balastik has successfully represented the Radio and Television Broadcasting Council (RTBC) before an extended chamber of the Supreme Administrative Court in the Czech Republic, in a case involving the criteria by which a notice from the RTBC can constitute lawful grounds for imposing a penalty.
In 2009, the RTBC fined the CET 21 media company for failing to distinguish an ad from a particular show, as the Czech Radio and TV Broadcasting Act requires. CET 21 — which is owned by Central European Media Enterprises, itself a member of the Time Warner Group — sought to have the fine revoked before the Municipal Court in Prague, claiming that the RTBC merely referenced its prior notices without dealing with the specific contents of the case at hand. The Municipal Court in Prague ruled that such notices could not constitute grounds for imposing a penalty.
However, on behalf of the RTBC, KSB filed a cassation complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court, which considered the matter in its extended chamber, since its previous decisions in the area were in conflict.
According to KSB, "The crucial issue concerned the interpretation of this expression: 'conduct that has the character of conduct that was notified to the operator as unlawful.' In other words, is it possible to fine a broadcaster for a hidden ad based on a previous notice from the RTBC which, however, concerned a different hidden ad? The Supreme Administrative Court finally agreed with the RTBC’s opinion that such a procedure is admissible. If it were not, it would not be possible to fine broadcasters for unlawful conduct since to be immune from punishment they would merely need to refrain from re-running the particular show."