Journalists at Italy’s public broadcaster walk out over right-wing government ‘censorship’ of media

Journalists plan strike after anti-fascist writer dropped from TV show at last minute

Jane Dalton
Friday 26 April 2024 17:59 BST
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Giorgia Meloni’s government has been accused of trying to censor Italian media
Giorgia Meloni’s government has been accused of trying to censor Italian media (AP)

Journalists at Italy’s state broadcaster are planning to go on strike next month in protest at the “suffocating control” over their work by the country’s right-wing government.

Workers at RAI have a raft of grievances, including what they say are political attempts to turn the broadcaster into a mouthpiece for the government.

Other issues include staff shortages and the cancellation of an agreement over performance bonuses, according to the reporters’ trade union, Usigrai, which announced the 24-hour strike for 6 May.

Since Giorgia Meloni became prime minister in 2022, several high-profile executives and presenters have left RAI, lamenting “government interference”, and critics have expressed alarm over legislation proposed by her Brothers of Italy party to increase punishments for defamation.

Political influence over RAI is a long-standing issue, which came to a head last weekend over the last-minute cancellation of a talk-show appearance by Antonio Scurati, an anti-fascist writer and academic.

He had been due to read a monologue marking the national holiday on Thursday that celebrated Italy’s liberation from fascism, in which he criticised Ms Meloni’s party for not repudiating its “post-fascist past”. He also accused the prime minister of trying to rewrite history.

Italian newspapers have since published his piece.

Television officials and the prime minister denied censoring Mr Scurati’s monologue, with the company saying only it had been dropped for “editorial reasons” and including his “high fee”.

Anti-fascist uthor Antonio Scurati’s appearance on a talk show was cancelled
Anti-fascist uthor Antonio Scurati’s appearance on a talk show was cancelled (Getty Images)

Ms Meloni, whose party traces its roots back to wartime dictator Benito Mussolini’s fascists, has decried all forms of totalitarianism and spoken of her aversion to fascism. But she avoids defining herself as “anti-fascist”, despite frequent calls for her to do so.

Successive governments have handed out top jobs at RAI to loyal protégés. Its board members, appointed by parliament and the government, are picked according to their party affiliation.

Proposals to make the broadcaster more independent have been discussed for years but have never achieved results.

Unirai, a smaller union of RAI journalists, said they would not join next month’s strike, calling it a political protest.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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