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Supreme Court: Mediaset critique is political, not defaming

According to the Supreme Court, La Repubblica and Giovanni Valentini did not slander the company, who complaint of having been defamed by three articles in 2003 

“At the centre of the political debate” lies a “the belief” of a “close interaction between the Mediaset business group and a political party” which “in turn was headed by the figure, both politician and businessman at the same time, of Mr Berlusconi”. As such, those articles that are critical of the company should be read in view of the political debate, and fall under the right of political criticism. With this logic, the third civil division of the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal brought forward by Mediaset against the newspaper La Repubblica for three articles by Giovanni Valentini in July 2003, at the time of the Gasparri law, also criticizing, among other things, the “commercial vampirism” of the group owned by Berlusconi.

According to the company, the articles represented an unfair smear campaign and a violation of the unfair competition rules, since the attacks were directed against the private company and not against the then prime minister. The Supreme Court, with todays’ decision (n. 2081), confirms the judgment by the Court of Appeal in Rome from January 2011 that had deemed these writings as “political criticism”, which should be read in light of the “constant and violent controversy” following the entry into politics of Berlusconi, and “in relation to the conflict of interest constantly denounced by the opposition”;and therefore “from a perspective that has to necessarily be more extensive than normally accepted”.

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