ROME, ITALY - JANUARY 04: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni gestures during her year-end press conference postponed twice to the end of 2023 for health reasons, on January 4, 2024 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)


Cancellation of ‘anti-facist’ speech in Italy sparks government ‘interference’ debate


The cancellation of an anti-fascist speech by Italian author Antonio Scurati on national television in Italy has sparked heated debate, with accusations of “unprecedented [Government] interference” by the journalists’ union Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana (FNSI).

Scurati was set to deliver a speech condemning fascism ahead of Italy’s Liberation Day, with the event scheduled to air on national news channel Rai.

The planned appearance was abruptly cancelled, prompting widespread outrage, with many accusing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s administration of being behind the deplatforming.

Alessandra Costante, General Secretary of the Italian Press Federation, told Brussels Signal that “the Italian Government’s control over public information has become suffocating”.

“The case of the writer Antonio Scurati is an examplar of that,” she said.

Giorgia Meloni herself has publicly come out to reject the allegations, claiming on Facebook that Scurati’s appearance was cancelled because he allegedly asked for money.

Such a position was supported by officials from within Rai, who cited economic reasons as being behind the cancellation, though such claims have been disputed.

An FNSI representative told to Brussel Signal that Meloni had contacted Rai‘s director before the channel cancelled Scurati’s appearance, raising further questions among many about possible political interference.

“From journalistic sources it emerges that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni would have called the director of the Approfondimento Rai Paolo Corsini,” one detractor claimed.

Georgia Meloni’s administration has made no further comment on the matter.

One of the reasons behind the accusations of censorship was that Scurati’s planned speech was to be critical of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing politics.

The author had planned to directly confront Meloni’s political stance, and would have accused her party of attempting to “rewrite” history rather than confront the darker aspects of Italy’s fascist past.

“The post-fascist ruling group, having won the elections in October 2022, had two paths before it: repudiate its neo-fascist past or try to rewrite history. He undoubtedly took the second path,” the text of Scurati’s cancelled speech reads.

“She [Meloni] has distanced herself from the indefensible heinous acts of cruelty perpetrated by the regime (the persecution of the Jews) without ever repudiating the fascist experience as a whole.”

According to the Federation of European Journalists (FEJ), “the situation [for the Italian media] has worsened in just a few months under the new Italian Government”.

“The authorities in Italy are now using every possible means to control the press, restrict its independence and put it at the service of the Government,” the group added.

Speaking to Brussels Signals, a representative for the FEJ claimed there had been a clear “decline in press freedom” within Italy.

“Italy is the European country with the most press freedom violations, after Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, France and Serbia,” the spokesperson said, adding that what was happening in Italy was against “the spirit of European legal standards”.

Even some big names within Rai have refused to accept the official explanation for the cancellation, instead opting to blame the Italian Prime Minister.

In an Instagram post, Rai news anchor Serena Bortone denounced the binning of Scurati’s TV appearance.

“I have learned to my dismay and purely by chance, that Scurati’s contract had been cancelled. I was unable to obtain any plausible explanation,” she said.