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Italy's state broadcaster criticised over lack of French election coverage

AFP
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Italy's state broadcaster criticised over lack of French election coverage
Italy's state broadcaster has come under fire for its lack of coverage of the French elections. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

Questions over the impartiality of Italian state broadcaster Rai surfaced on Tuesday, after scarce coverage of France's elections in which an alliance of left-leaning parties defeated the far-right.

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A parliamentary supervisory committee for Rai, which is state-owned, has called for the broadcaster's management to explain why only the group's 24-hour news channel, Rainews24, followed the French election results on Sunday.

The committee's president Barbara Floridia said it was "completely inconceivable" that Rai on Sunday evening neglected coverage "precisely in the crucial hours of a global event followed by the media all over the world and which found widespread coverage on Italian private TV."

READ ALSO: How much control does Giorgia Meloni's government have over Italian media?

On Sunday, France's left-wing New Popular Front came in top in the second round of parliamentary elections, soundly beating Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally, which had long been expected to win an absolute majority in the National Assembly.

The accusation levelled at Rai comes amid ongoing criticism of the broadcaster, which the opposition's Democratic Party has accused of being a "government megaphone" for the hard-right government of Giorgia Meloni.

As a public broadcaster whose top management is chosen by politicians, the independence of Rai - which has a primetime audience TV share of about 39 percent - has always been an issue of debate.

But insiders say intruders have become more pronounced under Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, with investigative reporters pushed aside, pro-government commentators promoted and programmes critical of government ministers cancelled or watered down.

Rai journalists held a 24-hour strike in May to defend freedom of the press, with the Usigrai union citing then "the suffocating control over journalistic work, with the attempt to reduce Rai to a megaphone for the government."

READ ALSO: Italy's public TV journalists strike for 'freedom' amid censorship complaints

Floridia, a parliamentarian from the Five Star Movement, asked Rai President Roberto Sergio for an "urgent and detailed report" on its decisions on the evening of the French elections.

Rainews24 had interspersed its coverage with reports on a festival of which it was a media partner.

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The Usigrai union commented that the broadcaster had "done nothing to quickly report on an election that directly concerns the future of Europe".

Last week the Rai was criticised for broadcasting a speech by Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano at a book festival in Taormina, Sicily that had been altered.

While the minister's speech was met with whistling and boos at the festival, in the broadcast version they were covered with applause.

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Penelope Hart 2024/07/10 19:16
So freedom of the press is in chains. Very scary for Italians who don’t have easy access to ‘Foreign’ news in Italian. Thanks for your coverage.

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