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.
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