Jan Vávra: Back in the saddle?

Photo: luminum – d.raub & l.šavrdová

In the latter part of the nineties, Jan Vávra (51), editor-in-chief of news at TV Nova, moderated his own creation, the discussion program “Seven Days”, every Sunday. In 1999 there was a breakthrough in his career, when he took the side of Nova’s American owners and refused to follow the “great leader” Vladimír Železný, who “cut out” the Americans and started broadcasting from studios in Barrandov. Time and international arbitration showed that the Americans were right. But Vávra’s not at Nova anymore. What is he doing?

“I’M A MEDIA CONSULTANT,” replies this man who has held a business license since 2003 and is currently starting a project called Prague Media and Communications Center. “It will be an educational system for journalists and managers, as well as for people who deal with the media,” he explains. He also provides consulting services associated with the planned digitalization of TV broadcasts. Vávra surely enjoys being at the birth of something revolutionary which, he says, will shake the media market. Prior to his arrival at Nova in 1994, this trained actor worked at many jobs: he worked at several Czech theaters, published the samizdat Prostor, and after the Velvet Revolution in 1989 he was the editor-in-chief of Občanský deník (Civic Daily), a by-liner for Lidové noviny (People’s News), and a Radio Free Europe announcer.
His work with Vladimír Železný at TV Nova was the most hectic period of his career, in his eyes. He recalls that era as risky business, since no one knew if it would be successful. “But it was a nice period, as we were creating something new.” The idyll ended when Železný cut CME off from TV Nova and built “his own” television channel in Barrandov. “It was a dirty trick played on people who trusted him,” says Vávra, who remained loyal to the Americans and managed Nova’s former service organization ČNTS until Nova was bought by the PPF group. Last year the former American owners made a triumphant return. What does this mean for Vávra? “We’re negotiating, but I can’t say anything specific,” says this media expert, who spends his free time riding horses and claims to like jumping best. “When you manage to jump the barriers, it’s a beautiful feeling,” he beams.


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