Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 12:39 UK

Italy TV bans Berlusconi film ad

Silvio Berlusconi
Berlusconi is in his third term as Italian prime minister

Italian state TV is refusing to show a trailer for a film featuring Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, stating it is "offensive" to his reputation.

The ad for Videocracy shows scantily-clad women and statistics claiming Italy has a low press freedom rating.

Film-maker Erik Gandini says his work, which is premiering at the Venice Film Festival, is about Italian culture.

Mr Berlusconi's company Mediaset, which runs Italy's private TV stations, has also declined to screen the trailer.

Italy's state broadcaster RAI said in its rejection letter that the images in the trailer alluded to recent stories about the Italian premier's private life.

Political message

But Gandini refuted claims that his film discusses the scandals, saying they hit the headlines after it was completed.

He said: "It is a film about the present time. It is a film that talks about how Italy has become after all these years. Of course, Berlusconi is in the story.

"In a videocracy, the key to power is the image. In Italy, one man only has kept the domination of the image over three entire decades," the Italian-born film-maker added.

Producers Fandango said that RAI informed them that the movie promo, which also shows a smiling Mr Berlusconi, was a political message aimed against the government.

RAI said it was willing to show the commercials if an alternative point of view was shown alongside them.

Gandini said that the state TV network - the president of which has to be approved by the government - and Mr Berlusconi's Mediaset already give the opposing opinion.

"The other side has six channels, 24/7, telling the other story," he said. "I think they really can afford a discussion about these things."

Mediaset and RAI's three state television channels make up 90% of the available free-to-air broadcasters in Italy.

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