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Italy6 August 2002

Media pluralism more threatened than ever

image 200 x 323 (JPEG) The political TV show "Sciuscia" of opposition journalist Michele Santoro will be dropped from the programming of the State television broadcaster RAI in October, unless RAI’s governing board declares its opposition when it meets on 30 August. The move follows the violent criticism of Santoro’s show and that of his colleague Enzo Biagi ("Il Fatto") expressed on 19 April by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who implicitly called for their removal.

Reporters Without Borders condemns the threat hanging over this programme, which is particularly critical of the Berlusconi government, and believes that its removal, if confirmed, should be seen as a clear indication of Prime Minister Berlusconi’s desire to bring public television to heel.

The organisations points out that RAI’s three public television stations play an essential role in maintaining the pluralism of television and radio in Italy at a time when Berlusconi, through Mediaset, controls the country’s three main privately-owned TV channels

Nonetheless, Berlusconi and RAI’s new governing board, appointed by the new parliamentary majority in February 2002, continue to apply pressure against journalists considered critical of the government. Reporters Without Borders asked twice to be received by Prime Minister Berlusconi in order to discuss the threats to media pluralism in Italy. It also intervened seven times with the Italian authorities in 2001 and 2002 to denounce threats to press freedom. However, the organisation has never received a reply, and deplores the prime minister’s refusal to dialogue with human rights organisations.

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