The European Federation of Journalists, the regional group of the International Federation of Journalists, today warned that the adoption of a "monstrous and dangerous" new media and communications law by Italian Senators will further endanger pluralism in one of Europe's most highly-concentrated media economies.
The Italian parliament adopted the Legge Gasparri last Thursday, and the Senate is voting on the final text. If the law is adopted it would allow cross-ownership between newspapers and national television channels, including parts of the public broadcaster RAI.
"This is a monstrous and dangerous legal development that reinforces media concentration and harms pluralism all over Europe," said EFJ Chair Gustl Glattfelder, "when tailor-made laws allow media tycoons like Silvio Berlusconi to use the position of Prime Minister to expand his own commercial interests, then it also becomes a serious threat to democracy".
The draft law has already been dismissed as a "a regulatory monster" according to the EFJ member in Italy, the Federazione Nationale della Stampa Italiana. However, the Senate is likely to adopt it and thus allow its implementation.
The current situation is highly significant for Italy and similar trends exist in other European countries. In Italy, global media magnate Rupert Murdoch enjoys a near monopolistic position on satellite pay-TV with the merger or Telepiù and Stream.
In the UK, the government's Communications Bill, published in May 2002, has liberalised the media and communications market, with dramatic results for media workers and worrying effects for quality of the programmes. "The threats to diversity and plurality in our media have never been greater and it is high noon for politicians to react before the determinant step of the EU enlargement next year", said Glattfelder.