IFJ Backs Call for Journalistic Freedom To Combat Concentration and Political Bias in Italy

The threat to independent journalism posed by media concentration and a poisonous political climate have led to new calls for journalists in Italy to resist all forms of censorship, including self-censorship, and to maintain high ethical standards.

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' group, and its European section, the European Federation of Journalists, today welcomed a declaration by leaders of the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana (FNSI) calling on all Italian journalists to maintain their independence in the face of new pressures.

Leaders of the FNSI, Italy's leading journalists' organisation, issued a statement yesterday expressing alarm over threats to press freedom in the country and urging journalists to resist attempts to influence their work.

"Journalists in Italy face the most testing time of any group of colleagues in Europe," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, "They have a new government led by a coalition which has announced its intention to remove its perceived opponents from their jobs in the public television system and the level of media concentration is quite unacceptable for any modern democracy."

The election of media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, owner of the three private national television channels, as Prime Minister has raised anew the issue of the threat to pluralism posed by excessive media concentration. "It is inevitable that close relations between media ownership and politics will threaten media quality," said the IFJ, "self-censorship and passivity on the part of journalists is the most damaging consequence of a political and economic climate hostile to ethical journalism and independent reporting.

"We welcome the strong statement by the FNSI to promote higher standards, to be vigilant in defence of media freedom and to urge journalists to carry on their legitimate work," said the IFJ. "They have the full support of journalists throughout Europe who are watching events in Italy with increasing concern."