European Federation of Journalists

MFRR to conduct a mission to Italy amid worsening state of media freedom in the country

Mission MFRR on the newspaper La Repubblica (OBCT)

The growing pressure on press freedom in Italy has prompted the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) consortium to organise an urgent mission to Rome on May 16 and 17. The unprecedented political interference in the public service media, the increasing cases of vexatious lawsuits against journalists, and the possible sale of the AGI news agency will be the focus of the two-day visit. Meetings will be held with institutional stakeholders, journalists, trade unions and civil society.

In light of the recent legislative developments on media freedom at the EU level, in particular the adoption of the anti-SLAPP Directive and the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), this mission aims at analysing the dramatic backlash on media freedom standards, drawing the attention of Italian and European policymakers to the violations against the EU legislative framework.

Following up on the findings of the 2022 MFRR fact-finding mission to Italy, during the two-day visit to Rome on 16 and 17 May, the MFRR delegation will focus on three priority topics: the increasing political pressure on the public broadcaster RAI, the conflict of interest around the selling of the public news agency AGI (Agenzia Giornalistica Italia), and the ongoing reform of criminal defamation laws, in the framework of the increasing number of vexatious lawsuits that journalists face in Italy, often initiated by members of the government.

The mission will be led by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT), and will be joined by Article 19 Europe, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), and the International Press Institute (IPI).

The MFRR delegation has requested meetings with the Ministry of Justice, the Justice Commission at the Senate of the Republic, the Parliamentary Commission for the general direction and supervision of radio and television services, and to the Authority for the Telecommunications AGCOM. The delegation will also meet with Members of the Parliament who have taken part in parliamentary discussions concerning press freedom in Italy.

The delegation will meet the representatives of local mission partners – Amnesty International Italia, Articolo 21, Consiglio Nazionale Ordine dei Giornalisti (CNOG), Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI), Unione Sindacale Giornalisti Rai (USiGRai), as well as journalists and other relevant stakeholders to engage in a dialogue on the current condition of the Italian media.

The delegation will hold a press conference on May 17 at 11:00 at the premises of Consiglio Nazionale Ordine dei Giornalisti (sala Ocera, via Sommacampagna, 19, Rome) to present initial observations and recommendations from the mission. A detailed mission report will be published in the forthcoming weeks.

The MFRR consortium reiterates its long-standing commitment to improving press freedom in the country, in the wake of the recent developments and political pressure affecting press and media freedom in Italy.

Press release available in Italian here

Signed by:

  • European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • ARTICLE 19 Europe
  • Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

This statement was produced as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries.