BERLUSCONI UNDER PRESSURE AS CRITICAL TV SHOWS CANCELLED
On 23 June, RAI announced that two of its most successful programs, "Il Fatto" and "Sciuscia," were going to be cancelled due to "poor viewer ratings," reports the International Press Institute (IPI). The programs, hosted respectively by Enzo Biagi and Michele Santoro, are known for being critical of Berlusconi. In April, the prime minister accused the journalists of making "criminal use of public television" and warned RAI that it should "not allow this to happen again."
This came after Sciuscia investigated alleged links between the Mafia and one of Berlusconi's closest associates, and Biagi interviewed Roberto Benigni during last year's elections in which the actor said he would vote against Berlusconi, IPI notes.
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) says if RAI cancels "Sciuscia," it will be a "clear indication of Berlusconi's desire to reign in public television." The group is urging RAI's board to reverse the decision when it meets on 30 August.
The Council of Europe (http://press.coe.int) has also expressed "deep concern" about the prime minister's influence over the media, saying he "has not yet isolated himself from running his media interests in spite of promises made when he was elected last May. ">http://press.coe.int/cp/2002/139a(2002).htm">http://press.coe.int) has also expressed "deep concern" about the prime minister's influence over the media, saying he "has not yet isolated himself from running his media interests in spite of promises made when he was elected last May.
Berlusconi controls Italy's three main private television channels through his company, Mediaset. He also owns the country's largest publisher (Mondadori) and the largest advertising agency (Publitalia).
In recent weeks, he has come under increasing pressure from critics at home for his influence over the media. On 23 July the President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, called for a guarantee of the "central role of public broadcasting as a democratic, social and cultural requirement of each society, notes the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
As part of its world-wide campaign to defend public broadcasting, IFJ is monitoring developments in Italy and other countries. Go to: www.save-public-broadcasting.org. ">http://www.save-public-broadcasting.org/countries/italy.htm">www.save-public-broadcasting.org.
For other information visit www.ifj.org, www.rsf.org and www.freemedia.at. ">http://www.ifj.org">www.ifj.org, www.rsf.org and www.freemedia.at.
To read more about media concentration see MediaChannel.org's special issue guide: www.mediachannel.org.