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Matthew Hibberd

This chapter reviews key Italian media events of 2003, focusing on the

political controversies surrounding the Italian public service broadcaster,

Radiotelevisione italiana (RAI), and the new broadcasting legislation,

the Gasparri law. This new law paves the way for the partial

privatization of RAI, which, the government hopes, will mirror the

financial success of other privatizations. Media issues relating to new

legislation and to the nomination of RAI’s Administrative Council created

bitter political arguments in 2003. The Berlusconi government

defended its handling of RAI matters and the new legislation, arguing

that it is promoting a modern and dynamic media industry. Opposition

parties claimed, however, that new legislation and the political control

of RAI suit Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s political and commercial

interests and undermine RAI’s public service obligations. This essay

will examine both sides of the political debate.