The Italian prime minister and media tycoon, Silvio Berlusconi, was seen on most major television channels, on talk shows and even on the traffic news, for a total of three hours and six minutes during a 15-day period in January. His opposition rival, Romano Prodi, leader of the centre left L'Ulivo coalition managed to obtain just eight minutes of television coverage in the same period.

With the Italian general election coming up in April (the prime minister is now threatening make it later than 9 April if he is not allowed to keep parliament at work until the mid of February rather than the end of January), the president of the republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi has called for a calm period of electioneering with strict observation of the rules set down to ensure equal television and radio coverage for all political parties.