Italian RAI journalists strike in protest against Meloni government | Press freedom news

Broadcaster RAI denied the censorship claims and said it was transforming into a “modern digital media company”.

Journalists from Italian public broadcaster RAI went on a one-day strike, accusing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government of suppressing freedom of speech.

The journalists’ union Usigurai says the situation has worsened since Meloni took office at the end of 2022.

Usigulai, whose union represents about 1,600 of RAI’s 2,000 journalists, said in a video defending Monday’s 24-hour strike: “We would rather lose one day’s pay than lose our freedom. I like it,” he said.

Usigulai highlighted staffing issues, saying departing employees are not being replaced and some journalists are struggling on temporary contracts.

Vittorio Di Trapani, RAI journalist and president of the Italian National Press Federation (FNSI), said: “We have always fought against all efforts to hide freedom of speech, but what has happened in recent months… “I want to be clear that this is unprecedented.” ) told Reuters.

RAI dismissed the complaint, accusing the union of carrying out a politically motivated strike and saying the company did not impose any censorship on its employees.

Despite the strike, RAI’s two main TV channels continued to broadcast their main lunchtime news programs as usual, and their 24 news channel RAI24 mainly aired pre-recorded programs.

As a public broadcaster whose top executive is chosen by politicians, the independence of RAI, which boasts a prime-time television audience rating of approximately 39%, has always been a topic of debate.

Concerns were further heightened by Meloni’s rise to power in a coalition with Matteo Salvini’s far-right League party and the late Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing Forza Italia party.

Italy’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Ranking compiled by the media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) dropped to 46 this year, due to concerns about the government’s growing influence over the media and a number of recent lawsuits. 5 ranks lower than in 2023. Politicians against journalists.

The station’s censorship problems made headlines last month when RAI abruptly canceled a monologue program by author Antonio Sclati that was broadcast to coincide with a commemoration ceremony marking the end of fascist rule in 1943.

Sclati, who writes historical novels about Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, used the work to criticize Meloni’s party for not denying its post-fascist roots.

RAI officials and Mr Meloni denied censorship of the monologue, and the prime minister later published the booklet on his Facebook page.

In its own video statement, RAI management said there was “no censorship” and that it was transforming the station into a “modern digital media company”.

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