Italians protest media consolidation in style
When Rupert Murdoch is poised to add another newspaper to his bulging portfolio of media properties, U.S. legislators voice their concern. In Italy, where prime minister-elect Silvio Berlusconi is poised to regain his hammer grip on the country’s airwaves, it’s time for V-Day.
The V in V-Day — sensitive readers who know Italian, shield your eyes — stands for “Vaffanculo,” which roughly translates to “F&$@ off.” The event was created by comedian/activist/blogger Beppe Grillo (left), aptly described by the New Yorker as “a distinctly Italian combination of Michael Moore and Stephen Colbert.”
In a rant before a crowd of 45,000 that lambasted politicians of all leanings, Grillo said on Friday that Berlusconi’s dominance of the media would be unthinkable in other countries. Critics say Berlusconi as prime minister — through his family-controlled Mediaset empire and through state television RAI — will at least indirectly control nearly 90 percent of Italy’s television audience.
“Imagine if (Barack) Obama as president was also the owner of Fox, of ABC and other TV networks,” he said. It was the second “V-day” for Grillo, who first launched the protest last September when he gathered petitions that sought to clean up politics.
He reiterated calls to bar convicts from entering public office, and read the names out loud of a handful convicted criminals who were elected to parliament. After each name, the crowd thundered back “Vaffanculo!”
(Reporting by Phil Stewart)