Italy | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The political use of libel suits and the further consolidation of national media interests threaten to undermine press freedom in Italy. In 2001, Italian courts ruled that both journalists and editors could be held responsible in defamation cases if they published potentially libelous statements gathered during an interview. Politicians frequently file libel suits against reporters and press organizations. During 2002, media outlets faced no less than $1.5 billion in potential damages from defamation suits. Also during the year, critics raised concerns about the continued erosion of media plurality in the country. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's substantial family business holdings control Italy's three largest private television stations and one newspaper. In February 2002, his government appointed new members to the governing body of the state television broadcaster (RAI). In June, RAI canceled a popular television program that had frequently been critical of the prime minister. Several months later, RAI banned an unrelated television episode satirizing Berlusconi. By the end of the year, leading journalists at Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest daily, warned that a proposed corporate restructuring threatened to undermine the paper's editorial independence and further diminish media pluralism in the country.