Video recordings stopped in Bitonto City Council
In Bitonto a cameraman from PuntoTV has been prevented from doing his job. “Two local-police officers moved my camera away”, he explained. Solidarity from the Order of Journalists and Assostampa
“I experienced professional frustration. I was prevented from doing my job and exercise the right to inform.” So Mr Vito Schiraldi, a cameraman for the broadcaster PuntoTV in the Puglia region, comments on what happened last Wednesday, February 26th. “I was recording the City Council of Bitonto, in the province of Bari, for about three hours, when the spirits of the councillors of the majority and the opposition began to warm up over the new area 167, significantly raising the tone of the discussion”, the operator said.
“In the meantime, a citizen from the stands verbally lashed out against the administration. At that point, some advisers have begun complaining about the fact that I was recording. Vito Modugno, councillor of majority SEL party, came to me and told me to stop filming while asking me if I had an authorization. I explained to him that we have been recording the City councils of Bitonto for a long time and we never needed a permit” Mr Schiraldi added.
“A few minutes later, the man who had railed against the administration suddenly fell sick. Then Mr Modugno, along with two other councillors of the majority, Mr Franco Mundo and Mr Giuseppe Fioriello, asked the chairman of the council, Mr Vito Palmieri , to invite me to stop filming, and so it was. I, however, have continued filming until the chairman instructed two local police officers to stop me” the cameraman says. “The officers reached me and asked me to stop recording but I only stopped when they moved the camera with their hands”.
“Once the shooting stopped, the chairman of the council told me that I had not been authorized, warned me not to use any footage and asked the local police to ensure that no image came out of the council room. The officers, fortunately, did not follow the command”, Mr Schiraldi explained.
As Mr Mauro Denigris, director of PuntoTV, said, this was not the first time that something similar has occurred. “Some time ago always Mr Fioriello had asked the chairman of the council to stop our operator from filming, but his request had not been granted”, he adds. “The councillors and the chairman have justified their request by saying that the filming had to be stopped because a man had fallen ill, but the images show that our operator was asked to stop working way before”, the director says. “I think that it was a grave and clear act, and that we do not need a permit to take pictures of a public council”, Mr Denigris added.
The Order of Journalists of Puglia and Assostampa have expressed solidarity with PuntoTV and Mr Vito Schiraldi. The mayor of Bitonto and the other councillors have distanced themselves from what has happened announcing to the broadcaster from Puglia the authorizations for resuming the filming of the city councils.