It looked like a brave new world for Italy’s media on April 11, as pubcaster RAI and other nets opened their evening newscasts with the story of Romano Prodi‘s razor-thin victory over Silvio Berlusconi.
But things didn’t change everywhere overnight: The mogul-prime minister’s flagship Canale 5 led with the capture of mafia boss Bernardo “The Tractor” Provenzano in Corleone, the town made famous by “The Godfather.”
Mediaset’s choice to downplay the elections was not surprising — it was fined three times by the country’s media watchdog for airtime bias during the campaign — but with Berlusconi refusing to concede defeat and demanding a recount, it’s clear the mogul won’t just fade away from the media scene.
Within hours of the election results, a reconfiguration of RAI’s board was already being planned in the pubcaster’s top floors, where RAI Cinema topper Giancarlo Leone is tipped as the web’s next managing director. And in his first press conference after the election, Prodi reiterated he would draft an antitrust law to address Berlusconi’s “conflict of interest.” He’s also said he intends to set more stringent limits on Mediaset’s advertising.
But a new regime at Mediaset, which runs neck and neck with RAI in the ratings, isn’t likely, given the close election.
“The new government will be very weak, so there is plenty of skepticism regarding the effective introduction of any legislation concerning Mediaset,” says a Milan Bourse analyst.
And while Berlusconi may have lost the elections, he still leads Italy’s largest political force, the Forza Italia party.