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Italian channels fined for blasphemy

RAI-2 and Canale 5 in hot water over swearing

ROME — In an unprecedented ruling, top Italo broadcasters RAI and Mediaset have been fined by the country’s media regulator for airing blasphemous expletives during “Celebrity Survivor” and “Big Brother.”

Italy’s equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission has slapped sanctions of E100,000 ($132,000) apiece on the webs for violating norms “on respect of religious sentiment and protection of minors,” the communications authority said in a Wednesday statement.

The two reality shows, which are not currently on air, were among the top primetime draws of the fall season, when the second season of “Celebrity Survivor” ran on the pubcaster’s RAI-2 station and the sixth season of “Big Brother” ran on Canale 5, the flagship station of Silvio Berlusconi-owned Mediaset.

Contestants on both shows were booted on the spot after uttering strong swear words, directed at God, live in primetime. The incidents, which took place in October and November, were the first two of the type in this Catholic nation.

They caused quite a stir, drawing fire from parenting org Moige and consumer advocacy group Codacons, as well as the Vatican. That’s why, though the fines, thought not that heavy monetarily, are considered a regulatory milestone.

There was no immediate comment from RAI or Mediaset on Wednesday.

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