lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Apr 21 08:16:17 MDT 2002
"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. "
NY Times, April 21, 2002
Battle Over Media Controls Creates a Rift in Poland
By IAN FISHER
WARSAW, April 17 Adam Michnik was so angry that he apparently
forgot his lungs were full of cigarette smoke. He sputtered in fury,
something not unheard of for Poland's most famous editor and former
dissident, and as the smoke blasted from his mouth and nose, he was,
truly, a man breathing fire.
"Why haven't they, over the last 15 years, made a wonderful
newspaper?" raged Mr. Michnik, 56. "No one was stopping them from
doing the same thing. Our crime is that in our heads we have minds
and not sawdust."
Mr. Michnik's ire was directed at a familiar target, Poland's
government. But this time the fight of this former opponent of the
cold-war era's Communist governments is more personal.
The nation's socialist government is pushing a law that places
ownership restrictions on private media. Coincidence or not, the only
ones affected by the most contentious provisions are Mr. Michnik's
successful and outspoken newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, and its
prospering parent company, Agora.
Mr. Michnik is taking it as a direct assault on him for not being
friendlier to the government. His allies, which include every other
major media outlet in Poland, say the law would reduce the power of a
critical private press while strengthening public media controlled by
But government officials contend the bill is aimed at monopolies, not
Mr. Michnik, and they point out that he has grown up from being a
dissident symbol to heading Poland's most successful media company.
Mr. Michnik's anger, they charge, is really about money.
NY Times, April 21, 2002
Italian Leader Warns Critics on TV to Toe the Line
By MELINDA HENNEBERGER
ROME, April 20 Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who already
controls most of Italy's television outlets and thus their
reporters covering his government has suggested that the few voices
of dissent left on the airwaves get with the program or get out.
The Berlusconi family's Mediaset owns three of Italy's four private
national television channels, and Mr. Berlusconi's government has at
least nominal control of the three state-run channels. The direction
of these state-run channels has traditionally been divided among the
political parties represented in the Legislature, though, and one of
the the three, RAI 3, is under management appointed by the political
On Thursday, the conservative prime minister accused two journalists
and a comedian who have been critical of him in the past of the
"criminal use" of state television.
One of the journalists Mr. Berlusconi was referring to is Enzo Biagi,
81, the acknowledged dean of Italian journalism, who invited Roberto
Benigni, the actor and director best known in the United States for
his film "Life Is Beautiful," to appear on his news commentary
program shortly before last May's election. This was the election
that brought Mr. Berlusconi to power and ended five years of
On the program, Mr. Benigni said he was planning to vote for Mr.
Berlusconi's opponent, the former major of Rome, Francesco Rutelli.
Another of the three Mr. Berlusconi reproached was Daniele Luttazzi,
a comedian who once interviewed on television the author of "The
Scent of Money," a highly critical look at Mr. Berlusconi's past. The
third is Michele Santoro, a popular television news commentator whose
views are left of center.
At a news conference in Bulgaria on Thursday, Mr. Berlusconi said,
"They have made criminal use of public television."
Asked if that meant the three should lose their jobs, he said, "If
they change, I have nothing against them. But since they won't. . .
Under his government, Mr. Berlusconi said, state television "cannot
be so seditious."
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 04/21/2002
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