Serial killer interview brings uproar

Ratings fall during segment

Celebrity TV host Paolo Bonolis has caused a storm in Italy by interviewing a serial killer on his Sunday afternoon family show “Domenica In” on pubcaster RAI.

Donato Bilancia, 54, spoke from the jail in Padua where he is serving 13 life sentences for killing 17 people.

They talked about the murders (“I killed without thinking about it,” said Bilancia) and the personality of Bilancia, who terrified northern Italy for months and has become the subject of a TV series, “The Last Bullet,” aired by RAI rival Mediaset.

The decision to air the interview upset family lobby groups, Communication Minister Maurizio Gasparri and RAI prexy Lucia Annunziata, who said she was told of Bonolis’ scoop less than an hour before the show — too late to replace it.

She said the network’s board had not consulted her on this as well as on other crucial decisions.

“It’s terrifying to assist the TV confessions of a serial killer on state TV’s flagship channel during a show that millions of families watch every Sunday,” Annunziata said.

“I just wanted to understand the personality of Bilancia,” said Bonolis, who called in Padre Raniero Cantalamessa and criminal expert Francesco Bruno to discuss the murderer’s case.

But even Bonolis admitted that “he might have made a mistake.”

In terms of audience, he certainly did. The last part of his show, between 7 and 8 p.m., when the interview aired, drew only 4.2 million viewers, 2 million less than a week earlier.

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