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 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 14:57 GMT
Italy outraged by 'trash TV' attack
Emanuele Filiberto, a member of the banished Italian royal family
A member of the Italian royal family has recently been seen in a TV ad
Italian ministers and media have reacted with fury at an article in the UK's Financial Times saying Italian television has become sleazy, undemocratic and dumbed-down.

The article, written by Tobias Jones and published on Thursday, said the Italian television studio had replaced the senate and "soft porn has replaced hard news".

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also owns a media empire
He accused Italian prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi of being behind the decline, saying the premier was "only a couple of moves from check-mating democracy".

The report has been picked up by an incredulous Italian press, with politicians and commentators quick to denounce Jones' sentiments.

Communications minister Maurizio Gasparri told La Repubblica newspaper: "It's a mix of sanctimoniousness and of Marxism, worthy of a country where there is still a section of the parliament where men wear a wig."

Chat show host Maurizio Costanzo pointed out that "English television is not a triumph of elegance itself" and accused the Financial Times of "gratuitous insults".

Italy, don't be in any doubt, is the land that feminism forgot

Tobias Jones in the Financial Times
State broadcaster RAI issued a statement saying it was "astonished that an authorative daily like the Financial Times should host such crude opinions about Italian TV".

In the original article, Jones, who lived in the Italian city of Parma for four years, said "TV seems like one long song and dance karaoke show" with "girls in bikinis everywhere".

"Italy, don't be in any doubt, is the land that feminism forgot," he wrote.

'Cabaret'

He said the country that was once the "artistic engine of the world" now just imported Hollywood culture to the extent that its most famous actors did film voice-overs.

He said Berlusconi, who became prime minister for a second time in 2001 and owns a huge media empire, had "turned TV into endless advertisements sandwiched between the cabaret".

"He has turned television into an ideological vacuum, in which the medium really has become the message. The result, of course, is that the mogul has become the prime minister."

In November 2002, a member of the banished Italian royal family, 30-year-old Emanuele Filiberto, began starring in an Italian TV advertisement for a brand of olives that claims to make you feel "like a king".

See also:

24 Dec 02 | Entertainment
12 Jan 03 | Media reports
15 Nov 02 | Europe
19 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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