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TV footage of Italy culture minister swaps boos for applause

RAI to seek clarification over Sangiuliano footage which was produced externally.

Italy's state broadcaster RAI is at the centre of a new controversy over claims that footage of culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano was edited to replace booing with applause.

The incident relates to Sangiuliano's appearance on stage at last week's Taobuk Festival in Taormina, where he made headlines over a gaffe regarding Columbus and Galileo.

Videos shared on social media showed Sangiuliano being loudly booed, whistled and heckled from the audience, as the event's hosts sought to quell the hostility.

However in the footage shown on state broadcaster RAI on Wednesday night, the jeers from the crowd were replaced by applause only, with no trace of the presenters' appeals for calm.

"When state TV manipulates and censors the reality of the facts to hide the booing of a government representative, then it is clear proof that the managers of state TV act as if we were in an authoritarian regime", Francesco Verducci, senator of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) and member of the Rai supervisory commission, wrote on social media.

"What was broadcast is shameful, worthy of Kim Jong-un's state television" - stated the PD deputies from the parliamentary culture committee - "This is the regime press, not the one against which Prime Minister Meloni clashes ideologically every day."

In response to the controversy, RAI stressed that the programme "is not an internal production, but was provided by the Taormina Book Festival Association, which created it, taking care of every aspect of its production, without any involvement of RAI resources and personnel", adding that RAI management will seek "explanations to provide complete clarity on what happened".

Earlier this year journalists at RAI went on strike in protest against the "suffocating control" over their work by Meloni's right-wing government, after journalist Serena Bortone revealed that a monologue by anti-fascist writer Antonio Scurati was abruptly cancelled from her TV talkshow without her knowledge.

RAI opened a disciplinary case against Bortone who, on Wednesday, was suspended for six days, news agency ANSA reports.

Sangiuliano, who has not commented publicly on the Taobuk controversy, has made a number of high-profile gaffes since taking office in October 2022.

Last summer the minister raised eyebrows by implying that he had not read the books shortlisted for the Strega Prize, Italy's top literary award, despite having voted.

Earlier this year, while introducing Rome's New Archaeological Walk, the minister said: "When people think about London, they think about Times Square".

Sangiuliano also caused a stir last year when he claimed that the mediaeval poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri was the founder of Italian right-wing thinking.

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