Italy: Rupert Murdoch lies out of his arse, and a bit on electoral reform
(I hate migranes by the way - I've been out of action for eight hours today...)
Tax-dodging media mogul Rupert "I really shouldn't say this, but" Murdoch has announced that he won't be taking sides in the Italian elections expected in May next year, at which anyone with any brain desperately wants Silvio "rabid, corrupt maniac" Berlusconi, whom Murdoch met for lunch today, to be booted out on his unpleasant arse.
Murdoch says of his Sky Italia channel that "I believe that in TV one is using a public licence to disseminate the news and it is important that you should remain absolutely fair," while admitting that "If I were publishing a newspaper or magazine [in Italy] I would consider that quite differently".
Murdoch and Berlusconi used to be good mates - but that was before Sky started branching out into the Italian market. As Silvio owns 45% of Italy's free-to-air TV channels and a good chunk of the country's printed media, he was always going to be a rival - but since he became PM he's been pissing about with government subsidies for digital services, undermining Murdoch's satellite base.
Is this enough to make Murdoch swing behind Belusconi's rival for power, former European Commission head Romano Prodi? God knows - he did meet him for a chat yesterday though. But even if Prodi did get Murdoch's backing, Berlusconi's half-Nelson on the country's media ensures that his propaganda machine will still easily dominate.
And then, of course, there's Berlusconi's attempt today to reform Italy's voting system ahead of the elections:
"'This law would reduce the margin of the opposition's likely victory,' said Maurizio Pessato, a political analyst and chief executive officer of Trieste-Italy based SWG Srl polling company. 'It's a return to the past where each party defends its own interests rather than the general interests of the country.'"Sounds great, eh? The basic plan seems to be to return to a version of the voting system Italy had before 1994 - the one that produced such unstable governments that Italy has had over 50 of the buggers since the war. The benefit to Berlusconi? Well, under that system you voted for a party alone. Romano Prodi - and here's a reason to love the guy - has not only never joined a political party, making it rather hard for him to get elected if the system changes again, but is also leading a coalition made up of lots of little parties which may get wiped out under the proposed changes. Coincidence, eh?
Paul at Make My Vote Count is my bitch, so has more on the dodgy vote changes. Worth keeping an eye on, this - Silvio got so excited about it in the debates today that he twisted his ankle. He knows that without some kind of dodgy dealing even his propaganda advantage won't be able to help him cling on to power - this is not something he's going to be prepared to let slide.