Un Corpo Senza Testa in Topless Bar

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From the country that gave us Fellini—who, in turn, gave us the word "Paparazzo," from the ubiquitous celebrity photographer in La Dolce Vita—comes a court ruling that will outlaw the printing or airing of "gossip" in Italian newspapers, television or radio. The trade rag and industry gossip bible Variety reports:

An Italian circuit court ruled Friday that reporting gossip in Italy will be illegal unless it helps make a larger point about the figure in question.

The case is part of a wider effort to improve standards on Italian television. State broadcaster RAI said this year that it would stop airing reality programming when current contracts run out, and the company also announced plans to remove advertising from one of its three networks by the end of 2009 in order to allow it to broadcast more cultural programs without consideration for economic factors.

Easy to do, I imagine, when RAI, with stylish Italian leather cases full of tax Euros, can dictate programming, irrespective of viewer preference.

Upon announcing the ruling, the Rome court said it would "remove gossip that exists only for gossip's sake." But critics said it will have little impact on content producers adept at framing reporting so that it can take on an unexpected context.

The most significant aspect may be that it gives prosecutors ammunition for attacking problematic programs that are guilty of breaking only the anti-gossip rules.

"Everyone will abuse the gossip rules, but now those who do will risk being sanctioned," said one television producer quoted by news agency ANSA. "The rules cannot be enforced universally but some will have to worry about their rivals using the rules against them."  

Full story.

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  1. The court then went on to say that it hoped the lack of gossip would keep train conductors from being distracted, thus permitting the trains to run on time.

  2. This will be an interesting experiment: can government intervention make television actually worse? Is it possible?

  3. “The rules cannot be enforced universally but some will have to worry about their rivals using the rules against them.”

    We all the know the definition of insanity. Well trying to force everyone to work together to better society may well be the very definition of stupidity.

  4. Since Italian = corruption, expect this to be ignored like income tax and not having porn stars in Parliament*.

    * this isn’t law but most countries avoid it

  5. reporting gossip in Italy will be illegal unless it helps make a larger point about the figure in question.

    A beautiful example of an exception that will consume the rule. And I don’t believe for an instant that the court issuing this ruling doesn’t know it.

    And trust me, the target of gossip will not be thrilled to learn that their case will be kept indefinitely in the public eye by a complaint that the gossip was illegal.

  6. Is it any wonder traditional media outlets are dying all over the globe. Thank jeebus for the internet!

  7. I am a bad libertarian. I know this because my initial reaction was not, “What a horrible violation of liberty” but, “Good. Let the supermarket tabloid readers suffer!”

  8. Bingo,

    this isn’t why traditional media outlets die, it’s why socialist countries die. sadly, we’re probably next.

  9. Sounds like another item to file under “underenforced laws intended to make sure that we can justify harassing anyone anytime at our slightest whim”.

  10. …my initial reaction was not, “What a horrible violation of liberty” but, “Good. Let the supermarket tabloid readers suffer!”

    Bad Captain Chaos! Bad Captain! Turn in your libertarian decoder ring until you perform the penance of saying “I shall not initiate force…” fifty times.

    Also, you must commit a consensual crime of your choosing.

  11. Well the good news, I assume, is that Father Guidi Sarducci won’t be affected since he writes for the Vatican’s paper. Perhaps the Vatican will seize this opportunity to broaden its gossip reporting, hiding behind its sovereign shield.

    Also, the could be money to be made writing in San Marino, too, no?

  12. One way to kill a language…

    To all you Italians out there looking for a new language for all your news and entertainment needs may I suggest English.

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