Monday, May 07, 2007

Freedom of Speech in Italy

A row is brewing in Italy as parliament prepares to debate new laws to stop anyone with businesses worth more than 15m euros (£10m) from holding office.

A new "conflict of interest" law would be particularly damaging for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Critics of Mr Berlusconi, now leader of the opposition and Italy's richest man, maintain his media holdings are incompatible with high office.

I know in this country conservatives believe that money equal speech. If you have more money, that means you are entitled to more speech. I am not crazy about this bill, which is obviously targeted at Berlusconi. His money isn't the issue, it is his media dominance that is the problem. Berlusconi directly or indirectly controls six out of the seven networks in Italy.

This kind of makes running a fair election on equal grounds a little difficult. Assume Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal, the communications industry got more deregulated, and he then bought ABC, CBS, and NBC. He then decided to run a candidate since he is ineligible to run. CNN being the only major network that wasn't under his control. It would be a bit difficult to get "fair and balanced" coverage under these conditions.

The other day, I wrote about how I would like more partisan media as opposed to the centrist biased MSM. This is not what I envisioned. Rules would still have to be in place against consolidation. It would be just as bad for George Soros to run everything as Rupert Murdoch. However, them each owning networks, with a moderate alternative, wouldn't be bad.