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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

Italy state broadcaster RAI opens disciplinary case against journalist amid censorship row

RAI alleges that Serena Bortone violated company rules with Scurati post.

Italy's state broadcaster RAI has sent a letter of disciplinary complaint to journalist Serena Bortone over a viral Facebook post regarding the last-minute cancellation of a monologue by anti-fascist writer Antonio Scurati on her TV talkshow last month.

In her Facebook post on 20 April, Bortone said that she had learned "with dismay" of the decision to cancel Scurati's anti-fascist monologue to mark Italy's Festa della Liberazione, a public holiday to commemorate the end of the Fascist regime and the Nazi occupation during world war two.

Bortone added in her post that she had been unable to get "any plausible explanations" as to why Scurati's appearance had been axed abruptly from her Chesarà show.

The case sparked a major political controversy, with Scurati accusing the right-wing government of censorship, a charge rejected by both premier Giorgia Meloni and RAI management who claimed the cancelled appearance by the Strega Prize-winning author was due to "editorial reasons".

Scurati, backed by journalists and opposition politicians on the left, claimed the move highlighted alleged attempts by Meloni's government to exert its influence over the state broadcaster.

The controversy led to a 24-hour strike on Monday by RAI journalists, represented by the trade union Usigrai, against the government's "suffocating control" over their work.

On Wednesday night, more than two weeks after she brought the Scurati case to light, RAI demanded Bortone provide "justifications and clarifications" for her Facebook post, according to a statement sent to news agency ANSA.

RAI CEO Roberto Sergio alleged that Bortone's post on social media violated policy regulations, adding that the case had caused "reputational damage to the company".

News of the letter of disciplinary complaint against Bortone prompted a harsh reaction from Daniele Macheda, secretary of the Usigrai trade union, who defined it in a statement as "unacceptable".

The centre-left opposition Partito Democratico (PD) slammed the move as "an arrogant, threatening, intimidating act", claiming that the ruling coalition "wants to make the public service company the government's megaphone."

During an appearance on the Canale 5 talkshow Verissimo on Sunday, Bortone said: "One tries to do the right thing, for me the important thing is not to do the wrong thing", adding: "In life you pay a price for everything, but the absence of freedom would be too great a price to pay."

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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Marymount - International School Rome
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