Franz fails the fun test

If anyone is harbouring plans to laugh at the Austrian Chancellor, Franz Vranitzky, then here is a friendly piece of advice: think again. The Chancellor likes to be taken seriously and will go to considerable lengths to make sure his dignity is upheld. In particular, it is important to try not to think of him without any clothes on.

Hubertus Czernin, editor in chief of the top Austrian news magazine, Profil, encouraged this little fantasy among his readers recently when he used a picture of the Chancellor's head superimposed on a naked male body, on the front cover of the March issue. He was portrayed as chubby, hairy, and modest - he was covering "his" genitals with "his " hands. Now, according to Profil staff, Mr Czernin has been sacked and the Chancellor's office is taking legal action.

The caption next to the photo-montage read: "How [Vice-Chancellor] Wolfgang Schussel stripped shirt and trousers off Franz Vranitzky." This was a reference to the Social Democratic Chancellor's alleged concessions in coalition talks with Mr Schussel's conservative People's Party. The sacking triggered an outcry. "The editorial staff of Profil is most vehemently opposed to the firing of Hubertus Czernin," the journalists said in a statement.

Mr Czernin has apologised to Mr Vranitzky, but declined to make any public statement on the reports of his sacking.

Somewhat surprisingly, the far-right Freedom Party leader Jorg Haider said he backed Mr Czernin in the controversy. While he did not agree with the editor's political views, Mr Haider said he would do his utmost to ensure that freedom of expression was guaranteed.

They are also struggling with issues of censorship and press freedom in Poland. Nearly half of the staff of a leading newspaper, Zycie Warszawy, said they were resigning this week in protest over a change in policy forced by a new owner. The businessman Zbigniew Jakubas has announced plans to replace the editor-in-chief and to change the paper's profile to make it "objective, neutral and apolitical". According to the journalists, this is code for submissively pro-government.

Mr Jakubas is apparently upset by a perceived right-wing tendency in the paper. The journalists fear that Zycie will no longer deal with subjects that make the new rulers feel uncomfortable. The newspaper was attacked by former communists last year after publishing articles about the ruling coalition of the ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance and the Polish Peasants' Party.

"The change of profile of Zycie is part of the offensive of the ruling coalition against the Polish media," the journalists warned, adding that the appointment in mid-April of pro-Peasant's Party politician Ryszard Miazek as head of public television was part of a government attempt to gain wider control of the media. Mr Miazek has already announced that public television should serve the government.

Burt Reynolds' financial problems appear to be getting worse. In 1994 his lawyers asked a judge to relieve the actor of an $11,000 (pounds 7,300) a month alimony payment to the actress Loni Anderson, saying he was $11.8m in debt. Now foreclosure proceedings have been launched against Reynolds, who has allegedly failed to make monthly payments of $8,500 on his $2.25m Florida ranch since August last year. Reynolds has been asked to pay $1.49m, including interest since July, on a $1.5m loan he took out in May 1994.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works