Once the controversy about voting results is over Italy’s new government must give top priority to making sure the hand of politics is kept out of the country’s newsrooms says the International Federation of Journalists, the world’s largest journalists’ group.
“For years the fact that the country’s Prime Minister has been able to effectively control mainstream broadcast media has cast a long shadow over Italian democracy,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “It’s now time to end that sort of political influence once and for all.”
At the weekend journalists’ leaders from around Europe gathered in Slovenia for the annual meeting of the European Federation of Journalists, the IFJ regional group. Among the results of the meeting was a commitment to campaign for independent public broadcasting across the region.
But the IFJ says that the issue in Italy is not just about dealing with the conflict of interest by which outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi used his position as head of the family that controls the country’s largest private media company, Mediaset, and his political position controlling the public broadcast system RAI, to limit criticism from the broadcast media.
“For years Italy has suffered from a culture of political influence in the broadcast sector in which all political groups have had undue influence on the way media work,” said White. “That, too, must change. We must see Italy now getting back to normal service – with professional distance between the work of politicians and the media.”
The IFJ says that a change of government gives an opportunity for a fresh start in Italian media. “Promises have been made that Italy’s journalists will be able to work freely without undue pressure on them,” said White. “We hope the new government will deliver on theses promises as soon as possible.”
For further information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235 22 00
The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in more than 30 countries