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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
The press in Italy
Italian press graphic

Newspaper readership figures in Italy are relatively low, and given the size of the population the number of dailies is not large - around 91 in 2002.

With few exceptions these are locally or regionally based, reflecting Italy's strongly regional history and character.

The most important national dailies are the Milan-based Corriere della Sera and Rome's La Repubblica, followed by Turin's La Stampa and business paper Il Sole 24 Ore.

There are a number of weekly publications with a wide circulation, the most influential being the news magazines Panorama and L'Espresso. Sports newspapers and the Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana also have a very wide readership.

A striking statistic about Italy is the extent to which Italians are said to rely on television, rather than newspapers, for their daily news. Indeed according to research some 80% of the population depends only on television for news, the highest percentage in the EU.

The question of media ownership in Italy is a controversial one. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is also Italy's richest man, and directly or indirectly controls around 90% of Italian television, either through his family's ownership of commercial channels or through his supporters on the board of state broadcaster RAI.

The printed press in Italy has until now been relatively independent, but there are fears that proposed moves to relax cross-media ownership laws could work to concentrate publishing interests in fewer hands than at present.

Some commentators have pointed out that the big business interests that own Italy's few national newspapers are nervous about upsetting Mr Berlusconi too much, given his current clout in both the political and commercial spheres.

Indeed, opponents say political pressure has already been brought to bear on the national press not to be overly critical in its coverage of Mr Berlusconi and his government.

Main papers

Corriere della Sera

Based: Milan
Founded: 1876
Circulation: 690,000
Owner: Rizzoli-Corriere della Sera (RCS) group

Corriere della Sera is one of Italy's leading newspapers and the country's biggest-selling daily. It publishes a national and four regional editions. The paper leans to the centre-right politically, but it has opposed the current government over a range of issues, including Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conflicts of interest, his run-ins with the judiciary, and the war in Iraq. In 2003, its editor Ferruccio de Bortoli resigned amid a storm of controversy, with journalists and opposition politicians claiming he was forced out because of the paper's criticism of Mr Berlusconi. The current editor-in-chief is Stefano Folli, a noted political commentator. The Fiat Group, which owns Turin-based La Stampa (see below), also has a controlling interest in the group which owns Corriere.

La Repubblica

Based: Rome
Founded: 1976
Circulation: 624,000
Owner: Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso

Italy's leading centre-left newspaper and the country's second biggest-selling daily. La Repubblica probably has the widest presence of any Italian paper, with a national edition and nine local editions which span the country from north to south. Current editor-in-chief Ezio Mauro took over in 1996 from the paper's founder, Eugenio Scalfari, who was at the helm for twenty years. L'Espresso group, which owns the paper, is controlled by industrialist Carlo de Benedetti, a business rival of Silvio Berlusconi.

La Stampa

Based: Turin
Founded: 1867
Circulation: 398,000
Owner: The Fiat Group

La Stampa is Italy's third newspaper in terms of readership. It is owned by Italy's seminal business dynasty, the Agnelli family, which retains a controlling interest in carmaker Fiat. The paper is centrist in its political orientation.

Il Sole 24 Ore

Based: Milan
Founded: 1865
Circulation: 415,000
Owner: Il Sole 24 Ore group

Best-selling financial daily, reported to have the highest circulation in Europe for a paper of its kind. It is owned by the Italian industrialists' association, Confindustria.

Il Giornale

Based: Milan
Founded: 1974
Circulation: 218,000
Owner: Societa Europea di Edizioni SPA

Centre-right daily owned by Paolo Berlusconi, brother of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The paper openly supports the government but says it has an independent editorial line.

Il Messaggero

Based: Rome
Founded: 1878
Circulation: 262,000
Owner: Caltagirone Group

Rome's most popular newspaper, Il Messaggero is a centrist daily which gives extensive coverage to affairs in Rome and central Italy. The Caltagirone Group which owns it also publishes popular Neapolitan daily Il Mattino, as well as several other papers published in southern Italy.

Influential weeklies


Based: Milan
Founded: 1962
Circulation: 540,000
Owner: Mondadori [owned by Fininvest group]

Italy's biggest news weekly is Berlusconi-owned. It has been accused of championing its patron and rubbishing his political opponents, but Panorama's management says editorial decisions are made in complete autonomy.

Famiglia Cristiana

Based: Milan
Founded: 1931
Circulation: 1,053,000
Owner: Periodici San Paolo

Italy's most popular weekly magazine, with a circulation of over one million. Owned by Periodici San Paolo, a Roman Catholic publishing group.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


Country profile: Italy
24 Mar 04  |  Country profiles


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