Organisers of San Remo festival held for corruption

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The Independent Online

Italy's most famous song festival was plunged into scandal yesterday when several of the organisers were arrested on corruption charges.

Italy's most famous song festival was plunged into scandal yesterday when several of the organisers were arrested on corruption charges.

The San Remo Song Festival, held every spring in the north-western seaside resort known as the "City of Flowers", is in its 53rd year and has long been one of the main spectaculars on Italian television. It pulls in almost half the viewing public. This year about 12 million viewers tuned in, 40 per cent of the total, and the Italian media judged the event a flop.

But San Remo has been dogged for years by allegations of bribery and sleaze in the selection of acts for the finale, appearances that have launched many Italian pop stars' careers.

Yesterday, the tax police arrested three people on corruption and other charges, and issued more than 100 arrest warrants nationwide.

Police claim the contest's organisation was pervaded by corruption, and that to win the heats leading to the televised finale contestants had to pay bribes of €50,000 (£35,000).

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