TV special on Berlusconi's legal woes sparks furor

Canale 5 accused of 'pro-Berlusconi propaganda'

TV special on Berlusconi's legal woes sparks furor

Rome, May 13 - A television special on ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's legal woes that aired on Mediaset's Canale 5 - part of the media empire controlled by the Berlusconi family - sparked furor across social media Monday. 'The 20-Year War' was mostly panned on Twitter for failing to nab audience share, under 10% according to ratings measurement company Auditel, as well as for its content. "This is why 20 years ago we left Il Giornale (owned by the Berlusconi family) along with (the editor and founder) Indro Montanelli. Because they would have asked us to do these things," tweeted Beppe Severgnini, an editorialist with Italy's largest national newspaper Il Corriere della Sera. "I swear I don't understand. Why would a good journalist lend himself to these things?" continued Severgnini, who called the programme "only propaganda". Andrea Pamparana, one of the TV programme's producers, responded: "Because this trial is a farce. And today, only the prosecutor's papers were read," making reference to Monday's hearing for a trial in which Berlusconi stands accused of paying for sex with an underage Moroccan former nightclub dancer, Karima 'Ruby' El Mahrough, and is charged with abuse of office for allegedly interceding on her behalf in a telephone call to police when she was in custody on a theft charge. Anti-corruption prosecutor-turned-politician Antonio Di Pietro called the the TV special tantamount to "snake charming". "Berlusconi, the man defined by conflicts of interest - the owner of Mediaset and also a politician on trial for paying for sex with a minor - continues to use TV to clean up his image," said Di Pietro.

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