Italy6 August 2002
Media pluralism more threatened than ever
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.