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August 21st, 2003
The Prime Minister and the Press

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. Photo by Alberto Ramella.

About the Film

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders recently ranked Italy at the bottom of the list for countries in the European Union on its press freedom index. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is not only Italy’s richest man, but also the unrivaled owner of a vast media empire. This combination of political power and personal ownership of a large sector of the private media in Italy has provoked questions about the independence of the Italian media. By following the travails of some of the country’s leading critical voices — including Marco Travaglio, one of Italy’s most famous investigative journalists — The Prime Minister and the Press examines Berlusconi’s rise to prominence, and explores what happens to public debate when extreme wealth and political power converge with media dominance. This story is especially timely, coinciding with Italy’s assumption of the Presidency of the European Union in July, 2003.

  • teresa

    I’m an italian girl…here…now the democracy is under berlusconi feet…is dead.

  • Riccardo SIMONE

    Hello from France, I’m italian but I live in France.
    I’ve just watched your special documentary about Berlusconi.
    Well, I’m not for or against Berlusconi but I do not agree with the way you analize the italian situation.
    Up to you Italy is a kind of “south american banana republic” with one dictator and millions of unhappy people watching TV.
    I live in France and I can say that here it’s the same situation : everything is managed by power, TV and newspapers. Chirac, Sarkozy etc are corrupted and they manage to put their friends to important places on TV and newspapers.
    The documentary only asked opinions of against Berlusconi’s people, this is not a democratic way to do information.
    Also I really did not appreciate the way of american journalist to talk about Italy. Are you sure to live in a democratic Country ? Do you remember last political elections ? (more votes for democratic party but election for Rep party); Let’s talk about your nice TV, FOX news for exemple, are you proud about it ? Are your proud about Iraki war, dangerous Irakian weapons ? Are you proud about CIA ? Please, do not give this very terrible idea of my Country. To give lessons you must be perfect, and you are very far to be perfect.
    Berlusconi is not an angel but he ’s not a devil. By the way, do you know that every new governement changes the RAI management (in France too)? But when Berlusconi does it it’s a scandal !
    This is not free and independent information, this is only a personal idea of an argument that you do not know very well.
    I am a free person, I like to know, I read a lot, I do not watch TV anymore, just documentaries, films or some sport sometime.
    I’m not from the left or from the right but please STOP talking about Italy like a kind of “mafia-pizza-mamma-maccheroni”.
    In Italy we say “ogni mondo é paese”, that means that in every Country you can find the same errors and also the same qualities.
    Next time you do a kind of investigation documentary please ask also to the other side to talk, the thruth is always in the middle.
    I wish you all my best.
    Riccardo SIMONE
    By the way : I love America, I don’t like your gouvernement…

  • Lorenzo Zolfanelli

    Riccardo, you said:
    ” I’m not from the left or from the right but please STOP talking about Italy like a kind of “mafia-pizza-mamma-maccheroni”. ”
    Have you ever asked yourself why the american and other media talk about our country in this way? Why they don’t for France, Germany, etc.? Yes, you’re right, they are close to do the same, but who ever tell an EU M.P. “You should play as Kapo in one of our documentary about nazism?”, who ever said Russia PM about the coming first black president of U.S. “He’s young, beautiful and sun tanned”? In what country someone everybody known to has became important with mafy support (type “Berlusconi and Dell’Utri” on google) is allowed to be PM?
    You said they should ask the other side to talk, I’m happy they don’t, cause it would have made this documentary more insulting to italy.
    Now in 2009 Berlusconi still have the power, he still control media, press, newspaper. And now is getting the control of another side of democracy that hasn’t ever manipulated: education. In the next week a law about education is going to be passed. Our STATE school are going to be controlled by private body who can fund it (i.e. Berlusconi’s corporations) and make decision about what book to use, what to teach and what to don’t… This government is making up supporters using schools (from primary to university). And I really hope the thinkgs will change in the next years.

    An Italian Student

  • jorge orezzi

    If you know something about Marcello Dell’Utri you know why Berlusconi is Prime Minister now. And probably will be President of the Repubblic..
    Here everything (TV, news, book, news papers) are under his control. Mediatic Regime.

  • Francesco

    Hi. writing from italy. it’s all true. the situation is dangerous both for our freedom in italy and for the democracy all over europe.
    This model, i’m afraid, will soon affect other countries if peoples are not awared.
    Now We need help by the world wide public opinion, ’cause we have no more public opinion in italy.
    People, without free press, without free television, can’t see what berlusconi is really doing. and so many peoples support him.
    write, talk, about italy..please. this country need information. and can’t have. we really need the world wide press(but especially the U.S.A. press) to inform us. the italian people needs newspaper, needs televisions. the one that will give this to italians will have an entire people tu buy his newspaper and too watch his television. look what happened at spanish newspaper”el pais”: millions of italians cheking the www site and buyng the newspaper.. we need information.
    dreaming for Italia libera.

  • Eugene

    I`ve watched carefully many times this episode and the interview to Alexander Stille, I`m italian, you have done a great job, you have perfectly analyzed the situation

  • Nicola

    I’m from Italy, I must say that Berlusconi is a disaster for Italy, and in the after war Andreotti was an other big disaster… Italian politicant in the history were disaster for Italy…
    Excuse me for my English but I don’t speack English very well…

  • Rita

    I am an Italian emigrant. I am deeply and sadly distressed and depressed by the extent and depth of this man’s de facto personal ownership of Italy. He seems to throw around the word “democracy” because he appears to know that everyone likes the word. So, if you disagree with him you are not “democratic.” But, his verbal and business conduct indicates that such conduct is in fact a demonstration of the ideals and actions of a dictator. Furthermore, doesn’t he seem to be re-creating the framework of a fascist state (where big business and the government are in collusion – or am I wrong?). LIke others before him; he is not in love with his country and its ideals – he is in love with himself. Cicero would hate him. As the documentary states, this is a warning to all of us to be alert and active citizens of our respective countries. I can only hope that all of us Italians here in America will encourage our relatives and friends in Italy to watch this documentry on YouTube and to urge them to fight for a free media.

  • Antonio

    “dreaming” “need help” man the f up. The problem with Berlusconi lies squarely at the feet of two groups, the opposition and the apathetic. The opposition are too incompetent to even provide a united front against Berlusconi and most of those who would vote against Berlusconi don’t bother voting.
    Oh and as for Italian democracy, should we follow the American style? Where Bush was elected twice despite more than half the country voting against him in a two party system? What about Britain? Should we emulate them? Where Brown got to power unopposed without even running for election.

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