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Thu 2 May 2002 04:00 AM

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Berlusconi consolidates media grip

Italian Prime Minister brings public broadcaster RAI under his influence.

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister and media mogul, has appointed politically friendly executives at public broadcaster RAI. The move gives Berlusconi countrywide media dominance, with access to about 90% of Italy's TV audience and control of virtually all the television advertising market. Berlusconi also owns three leading private TV channels, Italy’s biggest publishing house, an advertising agency and controls, through his family, the leading daily Il Giornale.Reuters reports that the public broadcast channel RAI1 will be directed by Fabrizio Del Noce, backed by Berlusconi's right-wing Forza Italia party. Forza Italia member and RAI veteran Clemente Mimun is director of the RAI news unit, while former fascist National Alliance party sympathisers Mauro Mazza and Bruno Socillo were given the directorship of RAI2 news and radio news, respectively. The centre-left opposition got RAI3, with director Paolo Ruffini, and RAI3 news under Antonio Di Bella, but all regional news programs were split off into a new service headed by centre-right candidate Angela Buttiglione.

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