Freedom of the press in Italy: Wikis


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Italy has one of the lowest levels of press freedom in Europe. A 2009 report by Freedom House classified Italy as "partly free", one of only two country in western Europe (the second being Turkey), also ranking it behind most former communist states of eastern Europe.[1] Censorship is applied in television such as in press for several reasons.


Modern Censorship in Italy

One of most important cases of censorship in Italy was the banning of one episode of TV show Le Iene showing use of drugs in the Italian Parliament[2] As with all the other media of Italy, the Italian television industry is widely considered both inside and outside the country to be overtly politicized[3]. According to a December 2008 poll, only 24% of Italians trust television news programmes, compared unfavourably to the British rate of 38%, making Italy one of only three examined countries where online sources are considered more reliable than television ones for information.[4][5]

Italy put an embargo on foreign bookmakers over the Internet (in violation of EU market rules) by mandating certain edits to DNS host files of Italian ISPs.[6][7] Italy is also blocking access to websites containing child pornography.[8]

Advertisements promoting Videocracy, a Swedish documentary examining the influence of television on Italian culture over the last 30 years, was refused airing purportedly because it says the spots are an offense to Premier Silvio Berlusconi[9].

Movies or anime and cartoons are often modified or cut on national television networks such as Mediaset or RAI.[10][11]

In March 20, 1994, Italian journalist Ilaria Alpi was killed in Mogadishu, Somalia together with her camera operator Miran Hrovatin under mysterious circumstances. At the time of the murder, she was following a case of weapon and illegal toxic waste[12][13][14][15] traffic in which she believed also the Italian Army and other institutions were involved. A comprehensive list of italian journalists killed since 1943 can be found here.


The "Report" case

In 2009 the board of state television RAI (appointed by Berlusconi) cut funds for legal assistance to the investigative journalism TV program Report (aired by Raitre, a state-owned channel). The program had tackled sensitive issues in the past that exposed the journalists to legal action (for example the authorization of buildings that did not meet earthquake-resistance specifications, cases of overwhelming bureaucracy, the slow process of justice, prostitution, health care scandals, bankrupt bankers secretly owning multimillion-dollar paintings, waste mismanagement involving dioxine toxic waste, cancers caused by asbestos anti-fire shieldings (Eternit) and environmental pollution caused by a coal power station near the city of Taranto). An accumulation of lawsuits against the journalists in the absence of the funds to handle them could bring the program to an end.[16]

"Freedom of the Press" report

Synthesis of Freedom House annual data related to Italy about the freedom of press reports from 1980 to 2008.

Before 2004, in the "Freedom of the Press" report, published by the American organization Freedom House, Italy had always been classified as "Free" (regarding the freedom of press). In the year 2004 it was demoted to "Partly Free", due to 20 years of failed political administration, the controversial Gasparri's Law of 2003 and above all the possibility for prime minister to influence the RAI (Italian state-owned Radio-Television), a conflict of interests among the most blatant in the World.

Anti-defamation actions

Several Italian politicians have promoted anti-defamation actions against journalist in 2004; in February of the same year, the journalist Massimiliano Melilli was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a 100,000 euros fine. But in the same year, also a politician, was arrested because of "defamation through the press" ("diffamazione a mezzo stampa"): was the case of it:Lino Jannuzzi, a senator of Berlusconi's party Forza Italia, who was found guilty of publishing an article where he claimed the existence of a secret international summit with judges and politicians plotting to have Silvio Berlusconi arrested. Jannuzzi, who confessed making the whole story up, was sentenced to a 2 years and 4 months of prison, but soon he received a Pardon ("Grazia") from the Italian Republic President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Mediaset and Berlusconi

Berlusconi's extensive control over the media has been widely criticised by both analysts[17] and press freedom organisations, who allege Italy's media has limited freedom of expression. The Freedom of the Press 2004 Global Survey, an annual study issued by the American organization Freedom House, downgraded Italy's ranking from 'Free' to 'Partly Free' [18] due to Berlusconi's influence over RAI, a ranking which, in "Western Europe" was shared only with Turkey (as of 2005). Reporters Without Borders states that in 2004, "The conflict of interests involving prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his vast media empire was still not resolved and continued to threaten news diversity".[19] In April 2004, the International Federation of Journalists joined the criticism, objecting to the passage of a law vetoed by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2003, which critics believe is designed to protect Berlusconi's reported 90% control of the Italian television system.[20]

"Editto Bulgaro"

Berlusconi's influence over RAI became evident when in Sofia, Bulgaria he expressed his views on journalists Enzo Biagi and Michele Santoro[21], and comedian Daniele Luttazzi. Berlusconi said that they "use television as a criminal mean of communication". They lost their jobs as a result.[22] This statement was called by critics "Editto Bulgaro".

The TV broadcasting of a satirical programmme called RAIot was censored in November 2003 after the comedienne Sabina Guzzanti, made outspoken criticism of the Berlusconi media empire.[23]

"Par condicio"

Mediaset, Berlusconi's television group, has stated that it uses the same criteria as the public (state-owned) television RAI in assigning a proper visibility to all the most important political parties and movements (the so-called 'Par Condicio') - which has been since often disproved.[24][25] In March 2006, on the television channel Rai Tre, in a television interview with Lucia Annunziata during his talk show, In 1/2 h, he stormed out of the studio because of a disagreement with the host journalist regarding the economic consequences of his government.[26] In November 2007, allegations of news manipulation caused the departure from RAI of Berlusconi's personal assistant.[27].

On June 24, 2009, Silvio Berlusconi during the Confindustria young members congress in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy has invited the advertisers to interrupt or boycott the advertising contracts with the magazines and newspapers published by Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso[28], in particular the newspaper la Repubblica and the newsmagazine L'espresso, calling the publishing group "shameless"[28], because is fueling the economic crisis speaking more and more about it and accusing also to make a subversive attack against him to replace with an "un-elected".[29] The publishing group has announced to begin legal proceedings against Berlusconi, to protect the image and the interests of the group.[29]

In October 2009, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard declared that Berlusconi "is on the verge of being added to our list of Predators of Press Freedom", which would be a first for a European leader. He also added that Italy will probably be ranked last in the European Union in the upcoming edition of the RWB press freedom index.[30]

Internet censorship 2009-2010

Several legal tools are in development to monitor and censor internet access and content[31]. Some examples are Romani law, special law proposed by parliament after Facebook cases of group against prime minister Berlusconi and for is aggressor. You can look at the difference between search results from google from Italy and outside it from: tool is derived from the OpenNet Initiative's Google China comparison

Kingdom of Italy era (1870-1948)

Censorship in Italy under Fascism (1922-1944)

Censorship in Italy was not created with Fascism, nor did it end with it, but it had heavy influence in the life of Italians under the Regime.

The main goals of this activity were, concisely:

  • Control over the public appearance of the regime, also obtained with the deletion of any content that could allow opposition, suspects, or doubts on fascism.
  • Constant check of the public opinion as a measuring instrument of consensus.
  • Creation of national and local archives (schedatura) in which each citizen was filed and classified depending on his ideas, his habits, his relationship and his eventual shameful acts or situations; in this sense, censorship was used as an instrument for the creation of a state of police.

Censorship fought ideological and defeatist contents, and any other work or content that could enforce disturbing cultural themes.

Censorship in public communications

This branch of the activity was mainly ruled by the Ministero della Cultura Popolare (Ministry of popular culture), commonly abbreviated as Min. Cul.Pop. (with a weird assonance). This administration had competence on all the contents that could appear in newspapers, radio, literature, theatre, cinema, and generally any other form of communication or art.

In literature, editorial industries had their own controlling servants steadily on site, but sometimes it could happen that some texts reached the libraries and in this case an efficient organization was able to capture all the copies in a very short time.

An important note deserves the question of foreign languages: with the "Autarchia" (the general maneuver for self-sufficiency) they had been banned, and any attempt to use a non-Italian word resulted in a formal censoring action.

Censorship did not however impose heavy limits on foreign literature, and many of the foreigner authors were freely readable. Those authors could freely frequent Italy and even write about it, with no reported troubles.

In 1930 it was forbidden the distribution of books that contained Marxist, Socialist or Anarchist like ideologies, but these books could be collected in public libraries in special sections not open to the general public. The same happened for the books that were sequestrated. All these texts could be read under authorization for scientific or cultural purposes, but it is said that this permission was quite easy to obtain. In 1938 there were public bonfires of forbidden books, enforced by fascists militias ("camicie nere"): any work containing themes about Jewish culture, freemasonry, communist, socialist ideas, were removed also by libraries (but it has been said that effectively the order was not executed with zeal, being a very unpopular position of the Regime). To avoid police inspections, many librarians preferred to hide or privatelly sell the texts, which in many cases were found at the end of the war[citation needed].

Censorship and press

It has been said that Italian press self-censored itself before the censorship commission could do it. Effectively the actions against press were formally very few, but it has been noted that due to press hierarchical organization, the regime felt to be quite safe, controlling it by the direct naming of directors and responsible.

Most of the intellectuals that after the was would have freely expressed their anti-fascism, were however journalists during fascism, and quite comfortably could find a way to work in a system in which news directly came from the government (so-called "veline", by the tissue-paper used for type-writer copies) and only had to be adapted to the forms and the styles of each respective target audience.

Newer revisionists talk about a servility of journalists, but are surprisingly followed in this concept by many other authors and by some leftist ones too, since the same suspect was always attributed to Italian press, before, during and after the Ventennio, and still in recent times the category has not completely demonstrated yet its independence from "strong powers". A well known Italian journalist writer, Ennio Flaiano, certainly an anti-fascist, used to say that journalists don't need to care of "that irrelevant majority of Italians".

Independent (illegal) press used clandestine print and distribution, and was mainly connected with the activities of local political groups.

The control on legitimate papers was practically operated by faithful civil servants at the printing machines and this allows reporting a common joke affirming that any text that could reach readers had been "written by the Duce and approved by the foreman".

Fascist censorship promoted papers with wider attention to mere chronology of delicate political moments, to distract public opinion from dangerous passages of the government. Press then created "monsters" or focused on other terrifying figures (murderers, serial killers, terrorists, pedophiles, etc.). When needed, an image of a safe ordered State was instead to be stressed, then police were able to capture all the criminals and, as a famous topic says, trains were always in perfect time. All these maneuvers were commonly directed by MinCulPop directly.

After fascism, democratic republic did not change the essence of the fascist law on press, which is now organized as it was before, like the law on access to the profession of journalist remained unaltered.

About satire and related press, Fascism was not more severe, and in fact a famous magazine, Marc'Aurelio, was able to live with little trouble. In 1924-1925, during the most violent times of fascism (when squads used brutality against opposition) with reference to the death of Giacomo Matteotti killed by fascists, Marc'Aurelio published a series of heavy jokes and "comic" drawings describing Mussolini finally distributing peace; eternal peace, in this case. Marc'Aurelio however would have turned to a more integrated tone during the following years and in 1938 (the year of the racial laws) published tasteless anti-Semitic contents.

Censorship in private communications

Quite obviously, any telephone call was at risk of being intercepted and, sometimes, interrupted by censors.

Not all the letters were opened, but not all those which were read by censors had the regular stamp that recorded the executed control. Most of the censorship was probably not declared, to secretly consent further police investigations.

Chattering en plein air was indeed very risky, as a special section of investigators dealt with what people was saying on the roads; an eventual accusation by some policeman in disguise was evidently very hard to disprove and many people reported of having been falsely accused of anti-national sentiments, just for personal interests of the spy. Consequently, after the first cases, people commonly avoided talking publicly.

Military censorship

The greatest amount of documents about fascist censorship comes from the military commissions for censorship.

This is also due to some facts: first of all the war had brought many Italians far from their houses, creating a need for writing to their families that previously did not exist. Secondarily, in a critic situation as a war can be, obviously military authorities were compelled to a major activity to control eventual internal oppositions, spies or (most important) defeatists. Finally, the result of the war could not allow fascists to hide or delete these documents (which it is supposed might have happened for other ones before the war), that remained in public offices where they were found by occupying troops. So we can now read thousands of letters that soldiers sent to their families, and these documents revealed as a unique resource for sociology (and general knowledge about those times).

The work was daily organized, resumed and composed in a note that daily was received by Mussolini or his apparatus and by the other major authorities. (See, in Italian, a wide excerpt here [1])

Notes reported, i.e., what soldiers could think about relevant events, what was the opinion in Italy, similar arguments.

Italians during Fascist era, their reaction against censorship

The fact that Italians were well aware of the fact that any communication could be intercepted, recorded, analyzed and eventually used against them, caused that censorship in time became a sort of usual rule to consider, and soon most people used jargons or other conventional systems to overtake the rules. Opposition was expressed in satiric ways or with some geniously studied legal tricks, one of which was to sing publicly the Hymn of Sardinia, which should have been forbidden not being in Italian language, but it could not be forbidden being one of the symbols of the Savoy house.

It has to be said that in most of the small villages, life continued as before, since the local authorities used a very familiar style in executing such orders. Also in many urban realities, civil servants used little zeal and more humanity. But the general effect was indeed relevant.

In theatre censorship caused a revival of "canovaccio" and Commedia dell'arte: given that all the stories had to obtain a prior permission before being performed, stories were summarized and officially were improvisations on a given theme.

List of censored films

During Fascist era (1922-1944 circa)

  • Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator (comic/satira/drama movie 1940 (U.S.A.), blocked by Italian fascist regime until 1943 (in southern Italy) and 1945 (in northern Italy). Showing in south Italy in 1944 and in north Italy in 1945.
  • Note: All communist, socialist or Russian-made films were forbidden.

During the Democratic Christian Party era (1948-1988)

During Berlusconi's era (1992-present)

  • Massimiliano Mazzotta, OIL (documentary on Sarroch Saras S.p.A. oil plant environmental impact), blocked by Italian magistrate
  • Susan Gray, Andrea Cairola, Citizen Berlusconi (documentary on Berlusconi's trials), not showing in Italian television until 2009 (Pay television only).
  • Jan Henrik Stahlberg, Bye bye Berlusconi (comic movie 2006 (Germany)), not distributed in Italy

See also


  1. ^ "Freedom of the Press 2009". Freedom House. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  2. ^ Italian condemned tv show
  3. ^ "Country profile: Italy". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  4. ^ "Web worldwide: UK housewives love it, Chinese use it most, Danes are least keen". The Guardian. 209-01-01. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  5. ^ "Our new digital friend? We now trust online news as we trust TV and newspapers". TNS US. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2009-03-07. 
  6. ^ Italy's ban on foreign operators opens a new front in Europe's battle for a 'common market' for gambling
  7. ^ I Know This Is A Trite Title, But ... It's Not Just China (strong language)
  8. ^ Sed Lex/Quando il Ministro viola la legge (in Italian)
  9. ^ 'Videocracy' ads can't air on Italy state TV- AP- (in English)
  10. ^ Censure negli anime (in Italian)
  11. ^ Movie censorship from the Italian Wikipedia
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Hine, David (2002). Silvio Berlusconi, i media e il conflitto di interesse. Il Mulino. pp. 291–307. 
  18. ^ "Global Press Freedom Deteriorates - Proportion of Global Population With Access to Free Media Plunges to New Low Italy Drops to “Partly Free”". Archived from the original on 2004-05-03. 
  19. ^ "Italy - 2004 Annual report". RWB. 
  20. ^ "Journalists In New Protest as Berlusconi’s Grip on Italian Media Becomes A Stranglehold". Archived from the original on 2004-09-27. 
  21. ^ "Media pluralism more threatened than ever". RWB. 2002-08-06. 
  22. ^ Gomez, Peter; Travaglio, Marco (2004). Regime. Milan: RCS MediaGroup. pp. 28–258. 
  23. ^ "RAI suspends satirical programme after lawsuit by Berlusconi-owned company". RWB. 2003-11-22. 
  24. ^ "Le trappole della par condicio" (in Italian). la Repubblica. 2006-02-15. 
  25. ^ "Il Bavaglio Del Polo Alla Rai" (in Italian). la Repubblica. 2002-05-09. 
  26. ^ "Berlusconi walks off show after a testy exchange". International Herald Tribune. 2006-03-12. 
  27. ^ "Silvio Berlusconi: Yes, yes, yes, Prime Minister". The New Yorker/The Times. 2008-11-23. 
  28. ^ a b "L'Espresso calls in lawyers on Berlusconi remarks". Reuters. 2009-06-24. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  29. ^ a b "Espresso group to sue Berlusconi". ANSA. 2009-06-24. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  30. ^ "Reporters Without Borders in Rome as Berlusconi gets closer to being declared a “Predator”". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  31. ^ Herald Tribun about Internet censorship in Italy

External links

Freedom of the press is a constitutional right in Italy, secured in 1947. After the fall of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime in July 1943, freedom of the press spread slowly from Rome, first to southern Italy and eventually to the north, where it was resisted in northern Italy by the ruling pro-Nazi Italian Social Republic.


Negative liberty
Positive liberty

Freedom by area






After the falling of fascism, a censorial way of thinking, persisted in the mind of Italians, maybe because of the strength of the Catholic Church or because of the innate mentality of the opposing communist party (P.C.I.), with a natural inclination in favor of selective censorship. This situation brought Italians to have two opposite ways of thinking, each granitical, and prone to censor every sort of undesiderable information from Soviet Union and its alies, from United States and western countries, and particularly any type of message not cleared by the Vatican.

Specially political leaders were santified by their own followers, demonized by the opposition, and every form of privileges, of abuse, or even robbery, if exerted by the loved part, was minimized or even justified. A small exception to this tendency was the film Forza Italia!, banned from cinemas after Brigate Rosse kidnapped Aldo Moro.

There was a great freedom of expression in the newspapers, but this was countered by an autonomous selective censorship exerted by the own directors, of any type of news that were considered a potential damage to the respective cause of capitalism, communism or religion. Indecent content was banished everywhere, because communist shared a severe and restricted point of view along with the Catholics. One notable case was the total ban of Bertolucci's film "Last Tango in Paris". Only after political struggle done mainly by Marco Pannella's Partito Radicale (with his famous fastenings to the point of starvation), there was an increased freedom in the publishing of porno matherial and other freedoms.

In this way several degrees of censorship persisted in Italian Democracy until the seventies and eighties. Only after the appearance in the seventies of hundreds of local "TV libere" city broadcasters (mainly transmitting softcore pornographic films), and after the sentence in the Telebiella (a cable-TV in Biella) case, the Italian government was forced to surrender its monopoly on broadcasting, partly helped by the advent of Cable television and later Satellite television.

Since the establishment of the constitution (in 1947) there have been several major events of violence associated with this freedom.


The House of Savoy (1861-1922)

Art. 28. - The press shall be free, but a law shall prevent abuses. All bibles, catechisms, liturgical and prayers books shall not be published without the prior permission of the Bishop.

from the Statute of the Kingdom of Italy, in force in the Kingdom of Sardinia from March 4 1848

Fascist era (1922-1945)

From its ideological root, which underlines the principle of the absolute authority of a strong decision-maker, that must not be subjected to the criticism of the public opinion (that is considered as a mass to be educated and manipulated), we can conclude that fascism does not considers liberty as a valuable matter, and of consequence does not concedes any right of existence to a free press. It can be defined only a fascist censorship, due to the strong limitation or total restriction of the freedom of press, radio broadcasting, assembly, the making of political parties and even the most simple types of public freedom of expression, during all the era of "Ventennio" (1922-1944). Many personalities, between those also Catholic Christians as Don Minzoni, paid with their lives the simple expression of ideas that were only slightly different to those of fascists. Censorship practices were not created by Fascist Regime, and did not ended with the end of fascism, but obviously that time was characterized by a vicious prosecution of free thinking, that arrived to send to rogue many books of different inspiration, like those of communists, freemasons, liberalist, libertines or that were considered "anti-patriotic" or "defeatistic".

The resistance and Allied encouragement

Allied troops liberated Rome in 1944. A surge of political activity followed, previously suppressed by fascist censorship. Formerly forbidden dissident ideas began to be printed in small home newspapers, printed using rotary printing presses and openly distributed or passed from hand to hand around cities and the countryside.

The Italian constitution

The end of the twenty-year fascist era meant the end of repression of many types of civil liberty, including freedom of the press. This provided an important background to the constituente working on the new constitution. Backed by a strong will from the Italian people, the majority of the constituente saw freedom of expression as a cornerstone of the new democratic Italian Republic. There was broad agreement between moderate and progressive forces. Due to the conservative Catholic majority mindset, the constitution restricted freedom of expression for indecent events, publications and public behaviour (such as nudism).

The practical result of this was a limited freedom of press. The right to publish texts, and especially political texts, books and magazines was maintained, but there was strict limitation of the right to publish obscene books, images, radio speeches, films and drama.

The Italian Republic was formed in 1947 and the constitution was approved in the same year. This was a period full of discussion and fighting between the extreme right- and left-wing political parties. The Catholic Church acted as a mediator as well as attempting to defend Christian morality and family values. The Church also tried to ensure equal access to information as well as allowing differing political views. Remnants of the fascist groups resisted these changes.

Article 21 of the Italian Constitution concerns the freedom of all people to voice their opinions openly and legally. It states the circumstances when authorities have the right to censor and how this should be applied.

All have the right to express freely their own thought by word, in writing and by all other means of communication.

The press cannot be subjected to authorization or censorship.

Seizure is permitted only by a detailed warrant from the judicial authority in the case of offences for which the law governing the press expressly authorizes, or in the case of violation of the provisions prescribed by law for the disclosure of the responsible parties.

In such cases, when there is absolute urgency and when the timely intervention of the judicial authority is not possible, periodical publications may be seized by officers of the criminal police, who must immediately, and never after more than twenty-four hours, report the matter to the judicial authority. If the latter does not ratify the act in the twenty-four hours following, the seizure is understood to be withdrawn and null and void.

The law may establish, by means of general provisions, that the financial sources of the periodical press be disclosed.

Printed publications, shows and other displays contrary to morality are forbidden. The law establishes appropriate means for preventing and suppressing all violations.

The Constitution of the Italian Republic, Title I, Part I, Article 21

Article 21 and broadcasting

There were political forces which wanted to restrict the new freedom of expression. They created a new state-owned monopoly in television broadcasting, and justified it by saying there was a limited number of broadcast frequencies, which made competition impossible. The RAI was the only broadcasting company until the 1980s when Silvio Berlusconi created a second, private company.

The two companies were used by their owners to show their views on the freedom of expression. The two main political parties, the Christian Democrats and the Italian Communist Party, formed a coalition to try to gain a state monopoly on television. The minority Italian Republican Party, which had 5% of the vote, played a key role in stopping this move. It wanted freedom of transmission.

The turning point was the advent of cable television. The state could no longer claim there was restricted airspace. Telebiella's thirty-fifth anniversary was marked by a parliamentary debate. A video recorded message by the minister Paolo Gentiloni was broadcast which said cable television had forced the government to address the issue. The constitutional court noted a large difference between the two groups. They emphasised that the political reasons cited by the Christian Democrats and Italian Communist Party were inconsistent. The government, led by Giulio Andreotti, was forced to change their view due to a lack of support.

Violent limitation of freedom of the press

The Mauro de Mauro case

In 1971, Mauro de Mauro, a journalist from Naples, mysteriously disappeared, after having announced the discovery of facts that could overturn Italian political establishment. There were several rumours that he was investigating a failed Italian coup d'état of the seventies "Golpe Borghese" or many other political mysteries of the years 1940-1971.

The Giovanni Spampinato case

In October 27 1972, the napolitan journalist Giovanni Spampinato (who was only 25 y.o), a correspondent from the L'Ora newspaper in Palermo and of the Italian communist newspaper L'Unità, was killed with eight pistol shots. His assassin, Roberto Campria, son of the president of the Ragusan tribunal, immediately went to the police station, where He confessed the crime. But the criminal enquiry, that was carried in a ridiculous way, brought to the "sand burial" of the trial in the judiciary hall. Spampinato was investigating the murder of a rich engineer-businessman, Angelo Tumino, that happened in Ragusa, Sicily, in february 25 of the same year. [1]

The Mario Francese case

Mario Francese was an Italian journalist, murdered by Mafia killers in Palermo on January 26, 1979. He investigated the Ciaculli massacre, followed the trial of the Corleonesi Mafia clan in Bari (1969) and the murder of Coronel Giuseppe Russo of the Carabinieri (the Italian gendarmerie).

Francese was the only journalist to interview Antonietta Bagarella, the wife of Mafia boss Totò Riina. In his inquiries he analyzed the Mafia, it's internal wars, the families and chiefs, mainly the Corleonesi linked to Luciano Liggio and Totò Riina. The latter was convicted for ordering Francese's murder, while Leoluca Bagarella and others were sentenced for carrying out the killing.

The Mino Pecorelli case

In 1979 Mino Pecorelli, a political journalist, announced he had several incriminating documents in his possession. Pecorelli was the editor-in-chief of the political gossip and investigation magazine Osservatorio Politico. The documents allegedly contained facts which could end the career of an extremely influential politician with the initials "G.A.". On 20 March 1979 Pecorelli was assassinated. It was speculated that G.A. referred to the prime minister Giulio Andreotti, one of the heads of the Christian Democrat Party. 12 years later, Andreotti was tried for other charges and was given "absolution due to insufficient evidence" for his suspected links with the Italian Mafia.

The Walter Tobagi case

In 1980, journalist Walter Tobagi, a former writer for the catholic newspaper Avvenire, then promoted to the Corriere della Sera, was killed by Brigate Rosse, a group of terrorists, that inspired themselves to communism.

The Giuseppe Fava case

Giuseppe Fava was an Italian journalist, founder of "I Siciliani" newspaper. Was murdered in January 1984 by killers of Cosa Nostra (the Sicilian Mafia).

The main inspiration of my novels were my own experiences in journalism. I beg your pardon, but I'm very upset by the statements made by a Swiss film-director. I realize that there is an enormous confusion about the mafia problem. This Swiss gentleman had several small problems with those that in Sicily we call "scassapagliare". Those are really cheap criminals of low rate, the same that can be found all around the world. The "true mafiosi" are not in the streets, dressed as mobsters, but they can be found in other places or in other assemblys. True high standing mafiamen are in Italian Parliament, you can pinpoint several ministers, others are known bankers, and others are those that at this moment are ruling the nation. It is necessary to evidence this paramount misunderstanding: we can not really call "a true mafioso" the lesser criminal who imposes you a fee, a quote on your small commercial activity... those are the same small criminals that can be found in every city in Italy and abroad, also in Europe. The problem about mafia is much more tragical and important, is a problem regarding the vertex of the nation, a problem that is slightly bringing the country to ruin, and to a definitive moral decadence of the whole Italy

Giuseppe Fava in an interview by Enzo Biagi

The Giancarlo Siani case

Giancarlo Siani was a journalist from Naples, who wrote in the magazine Osservatorio sulla camorra, and later for Il Mattino, the principle newspaper of Naples. He was assigned to the local area editor of Castellammare di Stabia. Siani was killed in september 23, 1985 by the Camorra, the local mafia, following an investigation about their leader Valentino Gionta. Gionta controlled all aspects of cigarette smuggling in the southern Italy region of Campania.

The Giuseppe Alfano case

Giuseppe Aldo Felice Alfano, better known as Beppe Alfano (Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, 1945) was an Italian journalist, murdered by killers of sicilian mafia in the night of January 8, 1993 with three bullets (one shot in his mouth) when he was driving his car in Marconi road in Barcellona (Sicily). After his death there was a long trial, still not ended, that brought to a life-imprisoning sentence against a local boss, but according to many the true minds after the homicide are still unpunished.

Freedom House report about the Freedom of Press in Italy

Before 2004, in the report "Freedom of the Press", made by the American organization Freedom House Italy had always been classified as "Free" (regarding the freedom of press). In the year2004 it was classified as a "Partly Free" country, due to 20 years of failed political administration, because of the controversial Gasparri's Law of 2003 and mainly because the possibility for prime minister to influence the RAI (Italian state-owned Radio-Television), a conflict of interests between the most blatant in the World.

Their assessment was due a numerical result that summarized several aspects of the Freedom of Press, between those:

  • Legal environment: 11 points;
  • Political influences: 13 points;
  • Pressure from the economic lobbies: 9 points:
  • TOTAL SCORE: 33 POINTS -> Country that is only partly free under many aspects of Freedom of Press. [2]

In reports of the same institute issued in 2005 and 2006, the freedom of press was subjected to a further reduction, with an increase of the activity of political influences from 11 to 13 points and a total score of increasing from 33 to 35 points.

In 2007 (One year after the beginning of a short period by center-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi) the score determined by Freedom House became lower to 30 again.

The freedom of speech and press are guaranteed by the Italian Constitution. In July 2005 both legislative chambers voted for the abolition of prison conviction (keeping a very high monetary penalty) after a guilt sentence due to committing the crime of writing a libel, but those modifications to the Law have not been actually turned into the Code of Laws.

Several Italian politicians have promoted anti-defamation actions against journalist in 2004; in February of the same year, the journalist Massimiliano Melilli was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a 100,000 euros fine. But in the same year, also a politician, was arrested because of "defamation through the press" ("diffamazione a mezzo stampa"): was the case of it:Lino Jannuzzi, a senator of Berlusconi's party Forza Italia, who was found guilty of publishing an article where He claimed the existence of a secret international summit with judges and politicians in order to trace a strategy in order to arrest Silvio Berlusconi. Jannuzzi, who confessed that it was all an invention of his own fantasy, was sentenced to a 2 years and 4 months of prison, but soon he received a Pardon ("Grazia") from the Italian Republic President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Silvio Berlusconi and his dominant position in Italian TV broadcasting

April 2004 law ruling TV broadcasting in Italy, by the Italian minister Gasparri

Pronouncement of the European High Court about the "Europa 7" case

In January 2008, after a request of a European judgement by the Italian local TV-broadcaster "Europa 7", who decided to civil-action against the "Ministero delle Comunicazioni Italiano", The European Court sentenced: [3]

Article 49 EC and, from the date on which they became applicable, Article 9(1) of Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive), Article 5(1), the second subparagraph of Article 5(2) and Article 7(3) of Directive 2002/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (Authorisation Directive), and Article 4 of Commission Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services must be interpreted as precluding, in television broadcasting matters, national legislation the application of which makes it impossible for an operator holding rights to broadcast in the absence of broadcasting radio frequencies granted on the basis of objective, transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate criteria

Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber) of 31 January 2008 (reference for a preliminary ruling from the Consiglio di Stato (Italy) - Centro Europa 7 S.R.L. versus Ministero delle Comunicazioni e Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, Direzione Generale Autorizzazioni e Concessioni Ministero delle Comunicazioni (Case C-380/05 - Operative part of the judgment)



in english

  • Christopher Duggan, Italy in the Cold War, 1 Oct. 1995, by BPOD editions. ISBN 1859730388

in italian

  • Curzio Maltese, Come ti sei ridotto. Modesta proposta di sopravvivenza al declino della nazione (1ª ed.), Economici Feltrinelli, (2006). ISBN 8807840685
  • Luciano Mirone, Gli insabbiati, storie di giornalisti uccisi dalla mafia e sepolti dall'indifferenza, Castelvecchi, (1999). ISBN 8882101169
  • Peter Gomez and Marco Travaglio, Le mille balle blu. (1ª ed), book edited by BUR Rizzoli, (2006). ISBN 8817009431
  • Massimiliano Melilli, Scritture civili. Conversazioni sul nostro tempo. Editore Ombre Corte, 2006. ISBN 8887009880
  • Massimiliano Melilli, Europa in fondo a destra. Vecchi e nuovi fascismi. Editore DeriveApprodi, 2003. ISBN 8888738010
  • Denis Mack Smith, Storia d'Italia, Editori Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2000 ISBN 8842061433

Internet, films, TV-programs

  1. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published an article about Giovanni Spampinato in June 8 of 2001
  2. A score lower or equal to 30, indicates a country that is free under all aspects of the freedom of press; a score between 31 and 60 indicates partly free countries; countries with a score over 60 are not free from the whole of the aspects of the freedom of press.
  3. Termometropolitico - wordpress: Europa7-Rete-4 la sentenza della European Court Of Justice

Filmography about the freedom of press in Italy

See also

External links


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