Italy Begins B’cast Reforms

Italian officials took the first step Jan. 26 toward reforming broadcast laws to ensure fair treatment for all sides in political campaigns.

The new minister of post and telecommunications, Agostino Gambino, appointed a committee that will draft “par condicio” (equal rights) laws governing TV political coverage.

New prime minister Lamberto Dini wants Gambino, an attorney, to come up with new guidelines as soon as possible because early elections might be ordered at any time during the next few months.

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi still holds a virtual monopoly of Italy’s commercial TV, and the friendly execs he put in charge of pubcaster RAI remain in control there.

Dini won his first Parliamentary vote of confidence Jan. 25 thanks to the mass abstention by supporters of Berlusconi. He will face the second vote in Italy’s upper house next week, where he has greater support.

The par condicio laws were among Dini’s top four priorities, which also include a supplementary budget for 1995, reform of Italy’s pension and changes in regional electoral laws.

“We need more substantial laws to guarantee fair coverage for all political parties. At the last election the government’s media watchdog received more than 1,000 complaints of abuse, but because of the inadequacies in the law they could be dealt with only a few months later,” Gambino said.

According to Dini, however, the new laws will not be very detailed and strict.

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