Final Word from Monday, January 12, 2004





The Prague Business Journal has gone bankrupt, and it will be a loss for Czech journalism. The hard-hitting weekly newspaper was a leader in bringing news of deals, legal changes and corrupt practices. Insiders say the paper posted a preliminary pretax profit of Kč 2.9m for 2003 on revenues of nearly Kč 40m but couldn't overcome an Kč 18m Czech tax liability accrued by the former management. Millions of crowns earned during good years went to shareholders through a royalty agreement, they say, while taxes went unpaid in bad years. CEO Stephen O'Connor of New World Publishing Inc. of the U.S., the PBJ's parent company, denied that any significant payments were made to shareholders. But if the paper was indeed "tunneled" by the American owners, it would be ironic. It was effective in part because it pointed out just such behavior by others.

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