Broadcasters accused of favoring Silvio

A scandal in the Italo TV biz is mounting, sparked by leaked phone taps indicating pubcaster RAI and Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset TV group collaborated to favor Berlusconi while he was prime minister, prompting a denial by Mediaset chairman Fedele Confalonieri.

Leftist daily La Repubblica broke the story based on transcripts of phone calls in 2004 and 2005 between RAI and Mediaset execs discussing how to downplay Berlusconi’s defeat at local elections in 2005. The phone taps were performed as part of a police probe into the business dealings of a now bankrupt political polling company called Hdc with ties to Berlusconi and RAI.

Confalonieri claims the transcripts prove only that news execs were talking to each other. RAI, which has always been politically controlled and is now closer to center-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi, has opened an internal investigation.

Communications Minister Paolo Gentiloni has urged parliament to fast-track his proposed reforms to insulate RAI from political interference and also to introduce conflict-of-interest laws that would force Berlusconi to choose between his business and political interests.

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