Billionaire Babiš to launch regional Czech weeklies in March

Agrofert owner Andrej Babiš says ‘5+2’ weeklies will fill gap in news coverage of important issues – and allow him to defend himself

Media & PR|Society
Brian Kenety | 05.01.2012
Andrej Babiš talks about fighting corruption during an appearance on the Czech public television show ‘Vaclav Moravec's Questions’

Slovak-born billionaire Andrej Babiš, owner of the Czech agricultural and chemical giant Agrofert Holding, plans to launch a 32-page regional free weekly magazine called 5+2 in March that will give more space to what he called “neglected” issues — and allow the prominent entrepreneur space to “defend himself,” the daily Právo reports.

“The weekly will have as many versions as there are districts in Bohemia,” Vladimír Junger, head of the holding’s newly created AGFmédia (Agrofert Média) division told the daily, adding that in time 5+2 will be expanded to also cover rest of the Czech Republic (namely the regions of Moravia and Silesia).

“The structure will be similar to those of Vltava-Labe-Press newspapers,” he added, referring to the dominant publisher of regional dailies in the Czech Republic, which publishes more than 70 versions of its Deník brand newspaper. The first issue of 5+2 will be published on March 8.

Earlier, Babiš, a naturalized Czech citizen and the country’s third richest man, told the Slovak weekly Trend that his new publication, 5+2, is being created in part to fill what he sees as a gap in news coverage here while allowing him to have more room to get his own views out. ‘Life has taught me that the media often ignore important things and do not give me enough space when I try to resist.’

“Life has taught me that the media often ignore important things and do not give me enough space when I try to resist [defend myself],” he said, stressing that his editors will be free to explore all topics, including those important to him (i.e., they will have editorial independence). 

In recent months, Babiš has become increasingly outspoken on political and social issues — in particular what he has called the scourge of corruption “at the highest levels” — and this past November launched a new civic group called ANO 2011 to promote candidates for parliament in 2014 running on an anti-corruption ticket.

In Czech, the acronym ANO stands for “Action by Dissatisfied Citizens;” the word ano itself means “yes.” The initiatives partners include the Society Against Corruption (VPK) and the Endowment Fund Against Corruption (NFPK), founded by Karel Janeček, a mathematician, financier and trader.

(In recent interviews in other media, Babiš has acknowledged that he contributed to the launch of Česká pozice/Czech Position in December 2010, but said he is otherwise not involved with this publication). 

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