Silvio Berlusconi faces inquiry over bid to block ‘hostile’ TV show

Italian PM placed under investigation by magistrates after wiretap

Silvio Berlusconi has been placed under investigation by Italian magistrates on suspicion of pressuring Italy’s media watchdog to block transmission of a state television talk show he considered hostile, it was reported on Monday. The announcement, by the news service Ansa, came as figures released by the Italian parliament revealed that the prime minister’s income, partly derived from private TV channels, had shot up to €23m (£21m) last year from €14.5m in 2008. The investigation was prompted by wiretaps, which allegedly reveal Berlusconi urging Giancarlo Innocenzi, a senior member of a parliament-appointed watchdog, to “shut down” the show, Annozero, broadcast on Italy’s state RAI network. RAI has suspended all political talk shows, including Annozero, before the regional elections this month, ostensibly to guarantee balance. Innocenzi, a former journalist at Berlusconi’s Mediaset network, is under investigation for denying to magistrates that he was pressured by Berlusconi. After the leaked wiretaps were published on Friday, the justice minister, Angelino Alfano, said he would send inspectors to quiz the magistrates handling the inquiry to discover if they were justified in bugging the prime minister, and how the transcripts were leaked.

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