Italian activist have signed an open letter to the Italian public broadcaster, Rai, asking it to stop promoting “intolerable” content.
The broadcaster has come under fire for platforming racist, homophobic, sexist and anti-semitic content. In the past, they have apologised for the use of blackface in its shows and advised producers to stop airing shows where blackface is used but did not instate an outright ban.
Activists across Italy have been monitoring the state broadcaster’s media and have logged all offensive content across Italian television saying that RAI regularly breaks its own code of ethics.
“The situation is way worse than you can imagine, but it’s not just Rai,” said Alessia Reyna, the UK-based founder of D.E.I Futuro Antirazzista, one of the signatories to the letter.
“However, as a broadcaster that is paid for by the public, Rai ought to represent an institution that is able to inform and promote culture and entertainment in a plural and inclusive way.”
While RAI has apologised for the use of blackface across it’s network’s shows, the portrayal of hate-fuelled stereotypes has continued on channel Mediaset.
Mediaset aired a 2014 episode of the satirical show Stricia la Notizia where two presenters make racist gestures and remarks about Chinese people.
“We asked the channel to delete the episode and make an apology and received a reply along the lines of ‘this is satire, and if you don’t get it, then so what’,” said Reyna.
Elsewhere, the show Felicissima Sera which also aired on Mediaset, saw a comedy duo insult the LGBTQ+ community, black people and Jewish people in a monologue on ‘political correctness’.
“Their intention was to say there is ‘too much political correctness’, and so ‘we will say all the words that are forbidden’,” said Reyna.
Activist are now calling on Rai to lead by example as the country’s state broadcaster and set up a diversity and inclusion advisory council in a movement known as #CambieRai.
Giovanni Parapini, the broadcaster’s director for social causes, told the Associated Press the public network did not accept #CambieRai’s criticisms, “because that would mean that RAI in all these years did nothing for integration”.
Last week, rapper Fedez said that RAI attempted to censor a speech he gave as part of his performance for the network’s May Day concert.
Fedez read out a series of anti-LGBTQ+ remarks made by League politicians and accused the party of intentionally stalling the progression of hate crime legislation.
Prior to the concert, the rapper said that he was asked by RAI 3 to present a transcript of his planned speech for review and was subsequently urged to remove specific references to League politicians.
Afterwards, the network broadcaster denied attempting to censor Fedez. In response the rapper took to Twitter, releasing a recorded call with an RAI 3 executive who can be heard asking him to withdraw his condemnation of League politicians from his performance.
RAI 3 has denied trying to impose censorship over Fedez, claiming that the concert had been organised by a third-party production company.
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