NEWS – World edition
Italian TV news reader quits
Lilli Gruber quit state broadcaster Rai, saying the corporation
mainly reflected the government's views and Mr Berlusconi's
"unresolved conflict of interest" hurt Italian democracy.
She says she will run in the European elections as an opposition
candidate. Mr Berlusconi denies his family's media empire presents
a conflict of interest.
Lilli Gruber quits Rai after 20 years of service, during which
she became one of its best-known faces with her authoritative
style and grasp of current affairs. She has recently reported
from Iraq, and presented the channel's main evening news programme.
In her resignation letter, Ms Gruber accused her managers of
turning their backs on Rai's long-held tradition of pluralism.
"Never, before now, has there been such a temptation in
Rai - especially in its main news broadcast - to mould all information
in the shape of the parliamentary majority and the government,"
she wrote on Tuesday. "The absence of common rules, the
anomalous concentration of power in the hands of one man and
the obvious, unresolved conflict of interest that this has given
rise to, hurts both broadcasting and the credibility of our
democracy." Rai management rejected her allegations as
"wrong and ungenerous".
But Ms Gruber said she intended to wage a political battle over
the matter at the European Parliament , which has recently criticised
Italy over its media ownership rules, if she is elected. 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 state broadcaster
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. A
controversial media bill, removing a ban on one person owning
more than two national broadcasting stations, was adopted by
the parliament last year - but President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
rejected it. If parliament passes it unchanged for a second
time, the president would be obliged to sign it into law.