Censorship occurs in Italy in various media. The constitution of Italy, however, specifically states that the freedom of the press is sacrosanct and may not be controlled; however in practice this is not always the case.
A 2009 study by Freedom House (an American NGO which monitors press freedom) stated that Italy ranked the lowest in Europe with regard to press freedom and also well behind a number of Eastern European countries.
In recent years several sites on the internet have been regularly censored or removed completely from Italian access, notably file sharing sites such as Pirate Bay as well as sites showing child pornography.
Defamation is a crime in Italy and thus serves to promote censorship in 2 ways: by causing self-censoship from journalists who do not have the funds or support to fight possible lawsuits and by actually imprisoning journalists who write articles which are against the establishment or high ranking figures therein.
Recent Censorship Issues
- In June 2011 an edition of the British magazine, The Economist, entitled The man who screwed an entire Country with a 14 page article on Italy’s political and economic situation was held up at various airports "for inspection" and delayed in reaching subscribers and newsstands.
- In 2009 several mildly gay sexual scenes from Brokeback Mountain were removed before broadcast on state television; this was criticised heavily by the LGBT movement.
- In 2006 an edition of L'iene which showed drug use in the Italian parliament was taken off the schedules.
- In 1974 the Eurovision Song Contest was censored as the Italian entry was deemed too politically sensitive at a time when the country was engaged in heated debate for a forthcoming referendum on divorce.
Television in Italy is regarded as overtly political and programmes often receive criticism or censorship for their behaviour. Indirect censorship is common, for example the program Report had its funding cut so it could not longer report on politically sensitive issues. However, programmes have also been taken off-air for making fun of Berlusconi (and others).
During the Fascist Dictatorship censorship was rife and used to bolster the public image of fascism whilst at the same time suppressing any negative aspects of the regime. It was also tied in with the emergence of a police state whereby files were kept on all citizens showing their political leanings, activities and so on.
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