An Article by Stefano Corradino, Italian Journalist and Director of “Articolo 21“, Member of the Italian Committee for the EIMP (European Initiative for Media Pluralism)

What does freedom of information in our time really mean? In broad terms, it refers to the possibility for citizens, and therefore also newspapers and the media, to express their own opinions without any interference, manipulation and censorship, that is “unconditionally”.

If we take this basic definition, we can say that Italy is not a free country, or is still, as revealed by the most reliable international rankings, only partially a free country. This lack of freedom is caused by a true metastasis developing at the heart of our democratic system: the conflict of interest. It is a still unresolved anomaly, based on public and private positions simultaneously held the consequent possibility of legislating and favouring one’s own private interests.

The lack of any laws put into place to prevent conflicts of interest and Silvio Berlusconi’s rise to power served as a basis of the distortion of information and market with indisputable evidence. For example, many unwelcome journalists have been expelled from public service broadcasting, whereas TV stations belonging to the former Prime Minister have been advantaged at the expense of public TV and local broadcasting.

The RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana, i.e. the only public Italian radio and television broadcaster) is subject to the funding mechanisms of the government and the political parties, in other words nepotism. As the years have passed large sums of money have been paid to buy off newspapers and place them at the service of the financier. There have been several attempts to prevent the public media from speaking out since they are seen as a dangerous threat, precisely because of their free and independent character.

The Article 21 of the Italian Constitution, which enshrines an inalienable right of all peoples to freedom of expression, has therefore been infringed on multiple occasion. A law to tackle conflicts of interests and independent regulation of public office, a serious publishing reform to prosecute waste and abuse, but to ensure a plurality of voices are essential conditions for the decrease the overwhelming spread also in the field of freedom of information.

 

Stefano Corradino | EIMP Italia