Italy profile

Cameraman at a sports event Television is a potentially powerful tool in Italy

Italy's heady blend of politics and media has often made headlines at home and abroad, with concern regularly being expressed over the concentration of media ownership in the hands of one man - former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr Berlusconi's Mediaset empire operates Italy's top private TV stations, and the public broadcaster, Rai, has traditionally been subject to political influence, so that when Mr Berlusconi was prime minister, he was able to exert tight control over both public and private broadcasting.

Between them, Rai and Mediaset dominate Italy's TV market and are a potentially powerful political tool, especially as 80% of the population is said to rely on television for its daily news - the highest percentage in the EU. From 2010-11 a more recent entry into the TV market with a strong emphasis on news and current affairs, La7, steadily increased its viewer ratings.

News Corp-owned Sky Italia has a near-monopoly of the pay-TV sector.

The Italian press is highly regionalised, reflecting the country's strongly regional history and character. Milan in particular is home to many dailies and news magazines. Most newspapers are privately-owned, often linked to a political party or run by a large media group. Newspaper readership figures are low compared to other European countries.

Around 2,500 commercial radio stations broadcast in Italy. Some have national coverage; most are music-based. They share the airwaves with public broadcaster Rai's networks.

Reporters Without Borders has warned of the "grip of mafia gangs" on the media, which it says forces many journalists to tread warily. And the Berlusconi government's attempts to introduce a "gag law" that would have restricted reporting based on material gained from police wiretaps gave rise to protests from freedom of expression campaigners.

By June 2012 there were 35.8 million internet users (Internetworldstats.com). Facebook is the most popular social media platform.

The press

Television

  • Rai - public, stations include Rai Uno, Rai Due, Rai Tre, rolling news channel Rai News 24 and cable/satellite services
  • Mediaset - main private broadcaster, operates Italia 1, Rete 4 and Canale 5
  • La7 - private, owned by Telecom Italia Media

Radio

  • Rai - public, stations include flagship national network Radio 1, entertainment-based Radio 2, cultural station Radio 3 and parliamentary station GR Parlamento
  • Radio 24 - commercial, news and business
  • R101 - commercial, pop music
  • Radio Italia - commercial, Italian pop music

News agencies

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