HomeWorldRai journalists strike over ‘suffocating control’ by Meloni’s government

Rai journalists strike over ‘suffocating control’ by Meloni’s government


Related stories


An Italian union has called for political parties to be “eliminated from Rai” as journalists with the public broadcaster went on strike in protest against the “suffocating control” allegedly being wielded by Giorgia Meloni’s rightwing government over their work.

The ruling coalition has been accused of influencing programming, including censoring themes that are not in tune with its rightwing stance.

The strike on Monday came amid a growing debate in Italy about political influence in the media after Rai was accused of censoring an antifascism monologue that was due to be read on one of its TV talkshows by the high-profile author Antonio Scurati.

“This strike is in response to industrial themes … but also there is an aspect linked to the independence and autonomy of journalists,” Daniele Macheda, the president of Usigrai, the main union representing Rai journalists, told reporters in Rome. “Things have happened in Italy, also recently, that do not give us much hope in [the way] things are going.”

Since 2005, the majority of Rai’s board has been chosen by politicians and its main shareholder, the economy ministry, as part of a law that was reinforced by Matteo Renzi’s centre-left government in 2015.

“We have always said that the presence of political parties in Rai needs to be eliminated,” said Macheda. “We went from 2005 to 2015, when Renzi’s law placed control of Rai in the direct hands of the government.”

While political influence and game-playing has always been an issue at Rai, concerns have intensified since the coalition government led by Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, which has neofascist origins, took power in October 2022. Usigrai last month accused the ruling majority of seeking to transform the network into its “megaphone”.

Rai on Monday accused Usigrai of “striking for ideological and political motivations, nothing that concerns labour rights”.

Scurati was due to read the monologue marking the 25 April national holiday, which celebrates Italy’s liberation from fascism, on the Rai 3 talkshow Chesarà. Hours before the show was due air, he received a note from Rai telling him his appearance had been cancelled “for editorial reasons”.

Scurati is well known in Italy for his books about the dictator Benito Mussolini and the fascist period. His speech referenced Giacomo Matteotti, a political opponent of Mussolini who was murdered by fascist hitmen in 1924, and other massacres committed by the regime. It also contained a paragraph criticising Italy’s “post-fascist” leaders for not “repudiating their neo-fascist past”.

Meloni responded by publishing the speech on her Facebook page, while criticising Scurati and accusing the leftwing opposition of “crying at the regime”.

Her government has been accused of edging out Rai managers or TV hosts with leftwing views.

Journalists from AGI, Italy’s second-largest press agency, have held several strikes in recent months in protest against the company’s potential sale to Antonio Angelucci, a parliamentarian with the far-right League, a member of Meloni’s government.

“Italy has entered the problem zone and now we are in the company of [Viktor] Orbán’s Hungary,” said Vittorio Di Trapani, the president of FNSI, the national federation of the Italian press and journalists’ union, alluding to the tight grip the Hungarian prime minister’s government has on domestic media.

“For this reason I thank Usigrai for today’s strike, it is an act of courage.”

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories