On 3 October 2018 the Government of the Czech Republic adopted Resolution No. 629 on the Digital Czechia programme and proposed changes to the Statute of the Government Council for an Information Society. The programme’s steering body is the Government Council for an Information Society, which is headed by the government Commissioner for Information Technology and Digitisation. The Government Council for an Information Society was set up in 2014 and it is the Government of the Czech Republic’s initiatory and coordinating body in the area of reform of public administration, the information society, the digital agenda, eGovernment, and information and communication technologies.
The ‘Digital Czechia’ programme consists of a set of concepts designed to provide the foundations for the Czech Republic’s long-term success amidst the advancing digital revolution. The programme’s concept can be defined as: ‘A Strategy for the Coordinated and Comprehensive Digitisation of the Czech Republic 2018+’. ‘Digital Czechia’ comprises three main pillars (individual concepts / strategies) that together form a single unit that contains numerous internal ties and reflect in their structure the various addressees they are aimed at and also differences due to the current legislative definition:
- Czechia in a digital Europe (managed by the Office of the Government)
- Information Concept of the Czech Republic (managed by the Ministry of the Interior)
- The Concept of a Digital Economy and Society (managed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade)
Also included in this programme is the electronic culture project – eCulture.
Since 2003 the Czech Statistical Office has conducted a survey on the use of information and communication technologies annually in households and among individuals.
In 2014 the share of households with Internet access rose to more than 70% for the first time.
In 2019, 81% of people over the age of 16 in the Czech Republic used the Internet daily or almost every day; 50.5% used the Internet to watch videos, 46.3% to play music, and 23.2% to play games. In 2019, a total of 81.1% of Czech households had an Internet connection.
Watching videos also refers to the practices of streaming videos on websites designed for video sharing (e.g.Youtube), watching programmes available from traditional television or online stations (e.g. iVysílání České televize, Stream.cz),or watching videos on paid service providers (e.g. Netflix or HBO GO) (for more data see here).
Libraries have been the engine of the information society in the field of culture since the mid-1990s. In January 2012 the Government of the CR adopted the Concept for the Development of Libraries in the Czech Republic for 2011-2015, which included bringing libraries online. This Concept aimed to define the conditions for the provision and implementation of complex library services in the real and digital space. The Concept focused on digitisation at different levels, but also dealt with legislative, financial, and methodological support. The objective was to create a conceptual solution for the long-term protection of digital documents and wide accessibility.
The system of libraries has been supported by the programme ‘Public Information Service for Libraries’, with the main aim of innovating public information services for libraries on the basis of information and communication technologies. The Ministry of Culture (MC) has also participated in the project of the Ministry of the Interior called the ‘Project of Internet Provision for Libraries’, where setting up an internet connection in libraries and payment of the related fees were provided with the aim of establishing equal conditions for access to information.
In 2009 the MC adopted the document ‘Digitisation of Cinemas in the CR’, which defined the basic principles and directions for the transition to digital image and sound projection. Based on this document financial support was introduced for digitisation of cinemas provided by the State Cinematography Fund (see also chapter 3.5.3. and chapter 7.2.2.).
In February 2009, the Film Council, which associates Czech professional film associations, festivals, and institutions, set up a working group for the digitisation of Czech films, whose purpose was to devise proposals for making the ‘golden stock of Czech cinematography’ digitally accessible both in cinemas and on other distribution channels in the best possible quality. The resulting document – ‘The Digitisation of Czech Film Works – A Concept Proposal’ – was presented in April 2010. The digitisation of Czech films was also dealt with in the Concept of Support and Development of Czech Cinematography and the Czech Film Industry 2011-2016.
The MC also participates in national and international activities connected with the digitisation of cultural content in relation to the initiative of the EC i2010: Digital Libraries. In 2013 the Government of the Czech Republic adopted the Strategy for the Digitisation of Culture for 2013-2020, which lays out the strategic goals of digitisation and the goals of individual branches in the cultural sector. The Concept contains the following main strategic goals:
- ensuring the professional and lay public has equal access to cultural content in digital format;
- digitisation of cultural content and the collection of digital documents as a part of the cultural heritage;
- the safe preservation of digital documents;
- creating the organisational and technical preconditions for the permanent storage of and access to digital documents including the formation of a special working group.
The Ministry for Regional Development, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs prepared the Integrated Operational Programme, which was approved by the European Commission in December 2007 and was part of the European Structural and Investment Funds programme period 2007-2013. At the start of 2010, as part of the Integrated Operational Programme several projects relating to digitisation and cultural accessibility were initiated, such as the National Digital Library and the Information Cultural Portal Czechiana, which was designed as a national data aggregator for Europeana.
The national digital library is represented by the sum of activities that the National Library of the Czech Republic engages in with partner institutions for the purpose of digitising and facilitating access to the national library’s extensive resources. This largely involves the work conducted on the grant project ‘Creation of a National Digital Library’, co-funded from the EU Structural Funds (European Fund for Regional Development) through the Ministry of the Interior’s Integrated Operational Programme. As part of this grant project the National Library of the Czech Republic and the Moravian Library in Brno are digitising, securing the long-term protection, and facilitating access to a large part of their collections. As part of work building the National Digital Library materials are being digitised and processed and then deposited and preserved in the digital depository.
The National Library also concluded an agreement with Google, which will digitise a further 200 000 works from historical and Slavic collections from the period between the 16th to 18th centuries.
In the Czech Republic, these programmes are not particularly intended for artists who work with new media and technologies. Artistic projects of this nature are supported under the grant selection procedures of the Ministry of Culture in the form, for instance, of showcases, exhibitions, and other artistic projects. New media are introduced together with visual arts and photography under the grant systems operated by individual towns, such as the grants offered by the City of Prague. NGOs are however working intensively on this issue.
In response to the protective measures that were introduced as part of the effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and impact culture, extraordinary calls for proposals have been issued for projects to support access to culture via digital technologies, and these have been issued at the level of both the state and the City of Prague. At the state level this involved an extraordinary call for proposals centred on providing access to the arts via digital media, with a total amount of 30 million CZK available.