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Sunday, 15 December, 2002, 23:45 GMT
Lewinsky pulled from Italian chat show
Monica Lewinsky
Lewisnky has travelled the world since the Clinton affair
Italian TV - not known for its prudery - has banned a scheduled appearance by Monica Lewinsky, the former White House intern who had an affair with the then president Bill Clinton.

The decision to prevent Miss Lewinsky from taking part in the Sunday chat and entertainment show Domenica In followed complaints by the Communications Minister, Maurizio Gasparri, and the chairman of state broadcaster RAI, Antonio Baldassarre.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Berlusconi - accused of having too much influence over the TV market
"We have prevented Italian families from watching something that is unnecessary and not very edifying on a Sunday afternoon," said Mr Baldassarre.

"I hope an incident of this kind will not occur again."

Correspondents say the standard format of Domenica In, which appears on one of the RAI channels, involves a glamorous woman presenting entertainment items against a backdrop of often scantily clad young women who prance across the stage.

Improper

Mr Clinton was impeached by the US House of Representatives in December 1998 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from his affair with Ms Lewinsky, which he sought to cover up.

The former intern, who has travelled the world since the affair, appearing on chat shows and promoting her book, was due to appear both on Domenica In and on a further show on Monday night.

But politicians from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing government suggested it was improper to use tax payers' money to pay a woman like Ms Lewinsky to appear on the show.

Ms Lewinsky was only being paid for her expenses, including her airfare, meal and hotel costs, according to her publicist.

She had already arrived in Italy when the decision to axe her act was made.

The government's relationship with the media has frequently come in for attack.

Critics of the prime minister say Mr Berlusconi has too much influence, exercising effective control of 90% of the Italian TV market.

They have also accused him of trying to muzzle left-wing political opinions on RAI stations.

See also:

25 Feb 02 | Europe
21 Feb 02 | Europe
24 Aug 01 | Entertainment
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