The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that the Government is going to present a Bill overhauling the governance of the State TV, which is actually directed by a Parliament-appointed Board. If the Bill is approved and signed into Law, the bulk of the governance powers will pass to a Chief Executive Officer directly appointed by the Government.
If the report is confirmed, this would be a bold move by the Government. The Italian State TV controls many TV and radio channels. A Government being in full control of it would have at its disposal a formidable propaganda tool, also because the ageing Italian population doesn’t use Internet very much.
Moreover, the only major competitors of the State TV are Mr Berlusconi’s TV channels, on which the Government could exert very strong pressures.
Setting aside Mr Berlusconi’s judicial troubles, the Italian State is by law the owner of the national TV and radio frequencies, which are used by the Cavaliere’s channels on the basis of a concession, and paying a rent. Then there are the antitrust issues. A judgement by the Constitutional Court ordering Mr Berlusconi’s Channel 4 to go off air has controversially been frozen by the political bodies until today, but this could change anytime. If this is not enough, the Government could potentially harass a private TV channel in multiple ways, from taxation to inspections.
In sum, the Government would become the real master of the Italian medias. It is unlikely, however, that the Parliament will allow this to happen. First, it would lose its prized powers over the State TV. Secondly, Mr Renzi’s Executive was already accused of being too power-hungry. Finally, Italy still remembers the fascist era during which the dictatorship made a massive propaganda use of the State radio and cinema productions.