RAI Journalists to Strike Against Government Control Under Meloni Administration

Italian state broadcaster RAI is set to face a 24-hour strike next month as journalists protest what they describe as the “suffocating control” exerted by Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government. The move, announced by the reporters’ trade union Usigrai on Thursday, underscores mounting concerns over political interference in media independence.

The planned strike, scheduled for May 6, reflects a range of grievances among RAI journalists, including concerns about undue government influence, staffing shortages, and the cancellation of agreements regarding performance bonuses. The union accuses the government of seeking to transform RAI into a mouthpiece for its political agenda, highlighting a broader erosion of journalistic autonomy within the broadcaster.

The issue of political interference in RAI’s operations is not new in Italy but has resurfaced recently amid controversies such as the last-minute cancellation of writer Antonio Scurati’s talk show appearance. Scurati had prepared a monologue critical of Meloni’s party and its historical associations with fascism, sparking allegations of censorship.

While RAI officials and Meloni denied direct involvement in censoring Scurati’s content, the incident reignited concerns about the broadcaster’s independence and susceptibility to political pressure. Meloni, whose party has ties to Italy’s fascist past, has faced criticism for her reluctance to unequivocally condemn fascism despite portraying herself as a opponent of totalitarianism.

The politicization of RAI has been a longstanding issue in Italian media, with successive governments accused of appointing loyalists to key positions within the broadcaster. Efforts to reform RAI and enhance its independence have faced challenges, with proposals failing to materialize into tangible changes.

Under Meloni’s administration, concerns over government interference in RAI have intensified, leading to the departure of high-profile executives and presenters. Critics have also raised alarms over legislative proposals aimed at increasing sanctions for defamation, further exacerbating fears of encroachment on press freedom.

While Usigrai has called for the strike in protest against perceived government control over RAI, the smaller union Unirai has opted not to participate, labeling the strike as “political” in nature. The rift underscores the complexities surrounding efforts to safeguard media independence and uphold journalistic integrity in the face of political pressures.