MILAN — Italian television regulator Agcom has ordered Silvio Berlusconi’s Tg4 channel to end broadcasting bias in favor of the former premier, or face a $400,000 fine.
The warning comes just two weeks ahead of the country’s general election in which the media tycoon is seeking re-election, this time as head of the new center-right PDL (People’s Party for Freedom).
Tg4, which is part of Berlusconi’s Mediaset broadcasting empire, has been criticized before over political bias.
In the latest incident, Agcom found “disparites in the treatment” of the PDL and its main rival, the Democratic Party, while surveying output between March 18 and March 26.
Agcom said it had “formally ordered” the channel to “correct the imbalance that it detected between coverage of the PDL and the PD (the Democratic Party).”
Mediaset declined to comment.
Along with Tg4, another channel, La7, was also officially warned by Agcom for pro-PDL coverage. La7 is not owned by Berlusconi, but is instead part of the rival Telecom Italia group.
Much speculation in Milan’s media circles suggests, however, that Mediaset is seeking to buy a stake in the rival broadcaster. Both companies have denied this.