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Berlusconi’s silent screen

Italo pol won't address conflict pre-vote after all

MILAN — Media mogul-turned-politico Silvio Berlusconi has reneged on a promise to reveal before the May 13 general election whether he intends to sell his Mediaset TV group if he becomes prime minister.

Ironically, he made the promise last week during an interview for one of his own newsshows, saying he would address conflict of interest questions “if you will invite me back before the election.” But late Monday night he refused an interview skedded for Friday.

After Berlusconi’s comments, Mediaset stock lost 5.61% to close at a five-day low of 12.12 euros ($10.73), making it the worst blue chip performer on the Milan market. The share price was further hit when Credit Lyonnais lowered its expectations for the group Tuesday, citing Berlusconi’s decision.

Speculation that Berlusconi was going to sell Italy’s largest commercial TV group was fueled May 4 when he met News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch in Rome.

In a newsshow Monday night, Berlusconi countered: “I only said that Mediaset was a national treasure and I promised that in my first 100 days in power I would launch a law addressing conflict of interests.”