Journos protest Berlusconi's influence

ROME — TV journalists at Italy’s two main newscasts, pubcaster RAI’s “TG-1″ and Silvio Berlusconi-owned Mediaset’s “TG-5,” are up in arms over what they claim is excessive coverage given to the prime minister and media mogul.

Reporters at “TG-1″ in Rome are skedded to hold a protest meeting today after deputy director Daniela Tagliafico resigned; she claimed the top-rated newscast caters blatantly to the government. Some 30 RAI reporters, including anchors Lilli Gruber and Davide Sassuoli, back the protest.

At Mediaset, directly controlled by Berlusconi, “TG-5″ reporters have formally complained about the network’s decision to replace weekly news show “Terra” with a special on the 10-year anniversary of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party Saturday. Two-hour-plus live coverage of Forza Italia’s birthday convention also aired on Mediaset’s Rete-4 the same day.

The European Federation of Journalists recently admonished Italy for setting a bad example for Europe because too much of its media is concentrated in the prime minister’s hands. The Brussels-based org said Berlusconi’s influence and vast media holdings create a conflict of interest for journalists.

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