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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 May, 2004, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Italy media boss quits in protest
Lucia Annunziata
Ms Annunziata is the second high-profile figure to quit Rai in a week
The chairwoman of the Italian public broadcaster, Rai, has resigned.

Lucia Annunziata announced her resignation 30 minutes before the corporation's board meeting in Milan.

Ms Annunziata said she was stepping down in protest at appointments to the company board that she said amounted to an "occupation".

A leading Rai journalist resigned last week, saying the corporation mainly reflected the views of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi - a media magnate.

Mr Berlusconi's media empire dominates the Italian press and broadcasting, but he denies that it presents a conflict of interest.

Last week, Italy's parliament approved a controversial media law which, critics say, strengthens Mr Berlusconi's hold over the media.

Ms Annunziata, once one of the country's leading journalists, had said she would resign if the Italian government passed the bill.

'No more representation'

Ms Annunziata told a news conference on Tuesday that Rai's board operated in "illegal conditions".

She said her resignation had been prompted by a series of key appointments put forward by the Rai director general with "less than a three-hour notice".

"All political forces in parliament are supposed to be represented in the CDA," she said. "With my departure, at least half of parliament... is no longer represented."

With my departure, at least half of parliament... is no longer represented
Lucia Annunziata
Rai chairwoman

Ms Annunziata was appointed chair last year when her predecessor, Paolo Mieli, stepped down five days after taking office.

He blamed "political and technical difficulties".

The choice of Ms Annunziata, who started her career at a communist newspaper, seemed by some to be an attempt to placate those who have accused Rai of being under Mr Berlusconi's influence, the BBC's Irene Peroni says.

But Ms Annunziata came under fire from parts of the opposition late last year for axing a satire show which mocked Mr Berlusconi and other senior government politicians.

The programme was suspended after the first episode went on air.

TV star quits

Last week, a top TV news journalist, Lilli Gruber, quit Rai, saying the corporation mainly reflected the government's views and Mr Berlusconi's "unresolved conflict of interest" hurt Italian democracy.

Silvio Berlusconi answers questions at a press conference
Berlusconi is accused of stifling media freedom
The Berlusconi family owns the country's three main private television channels - Rete 4, Italia 1, and Canale 5.

The prime minister also holds political influence at the board of Rai.

Through a holding company, Fininvest, Mr Berlusconi has press interests in the Panorama and Il Giornale papers, publishing interests at Mondadori publishing house and cinema rights.

Opponents of the media law passed last Friday - after an earlier rejection by the country's president - say it cements Mr Berlusconi's control over 90% of television and allows him to acquire more newspapers and radio stations.

An independent media watchdog, the Osservatorio di Pavia, found that Mr Berlusconi's presence on television in February accounted for 42% of news time dedicated to politicians.

Italy passes disputed media law
30 Apr 04  |  Europe
Top Italian TV news reader quits
28 Apr 04  |  Europe
Italian TV satire suspended
20 Nov 03  |  Europe
Italian TV throws down gauntlet
23 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
Italy names new TV head
13 Mar 03  |  Europe

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