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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 01:11 GMT 02:11 UK
Italy passes disputed media law
Silvio Berlusconi at Lake Como
Berlusconi critics say his media influence is already too wide
Italy's parliament has approved a controversial media law which, critics say, strengthens Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's hold over the media.

An earlier version of the same law was vetoed by the Italian president.

Correspondents say President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi is not constitutionally allowed to use his veto a second time.

Opponents of the law say it cements Mr Berlusconi's control over 90% of television and allows him to acquire more newspapers and radio stations.

But Mr Berlusconi's allies say similar concerns, which also prompted the veto by President Ciampi, have been addressed in the new version of the law.

"It is a law that guarantees more channels and therefore more information, said Renato Schifani of Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

"All the observations of the president of the republic have been received."

Advertising revenues

Mr Berlusconi owns three private television stations and exercises considerable influence over the state broadcaster.

He also has assets in the publishing industry and controls newspapers.

Critics complain the new law will allow the man who is already Italy's biggest media magnate to increase his monopoly.

"This law denies pluralism and therefore freedom of information," said Gavino Angius of the opposition party Democrats of the Left.

Critics of the earlier version of the law said it would have allowed Mr Berlusconi's companies to snap up a large share of Italy's advertising revenues.

Its new version, say the critics, is no different.

Although it has a clause limiting the maximum revenue earned by a single media company, it excludes publishing, cinema and music interests from the calculation.




SEE ALSO:
Profile: Silvio Berlusconi
02 Jul 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Italy
18 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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