FC: Italy reportedly requires news sites to register, pay fees

Alfredo E. Cotroneo alfredo a NEXUS.ORG
Gio 12 Apr 2001 16:04:11 CEST

Dear Carlo and all,

Let's state clearly what the law says, i.e. that all sites that carry
regular news on-line (whatever kind of news - whether sport, church or
politics - it does not really matter) now they MUST register with the local
Court, and have a professional journalist endorsed by the State sign in the
site at the Court. The same applies for every electronic form of news
delivery electronically (i.e. weekly newsletters delivered by e-mail). What
a member of the now defunct Italian Parliament (to be re-elected on May 13)
or a representative of a Ministry says to modify the scope of the law, has
*absolutely* no effect, and offers no guarantee when the PTT (Post and
Telecommunication) police takes you to Court.

It is very clear that this law is another serious attack to freedom of
speech in Italy, and several groups have already started to speak out
against it with banners, petitions and articles on the free Internet press
(see i.e .www.vita.org and www.interlex.it, both sites are in Italian).
Unfortunately, since the new law comes to the rescue of professional
journalisst (Radio, TV and paper media), no big campaign has been seen yet
on the paper media and TV. To the effect of this and any other law, it does
not really matter where the Web site is located, as the law may be enforced
on all Italian citizens and companies and ISPs (ISPs may be held
responsible for "clandestine press distribution" in case their clients do
not register their news Web site with the local Court).

This is clearly a law promoted by the lobby of professional registered
journalists, and chief representatives of the Journalist have recently and
blatantly admitted that in a series of interviews during the last few days.
As journalists in the paper media are being out-placed, several on-line
magazines escaped so far the strict rules of the press in Italy, and are
seriously competing with the paper media. Professional journalists are
experiencing serious difficulties because of the demise of the paper
press/media, and are trying to obtain protection from the State, and put
forcibly their feet in the new Internet media, protected by the State.
After the new law, web portals, and the majority of Web sites in Italy are
expected to hire a "registered" journalist and pay them a fee to sign in
their web site.

Last but not least, due to a law passed in 1948, no newspaper or magazine
(and now no Internet news site) can be printed unless it is registered by a
"professional" and State recognized journalist. The State and lobby of
professional journalists have the last say on whom can be admitted to the
"albo" of "professional" journalists in Italy. As it happens in most
western societies, journalist should be recognized as such by their
professional activity. On the contrary in Italy the profession is clearly
defined by laws, state organized exams and the final word to the admission
to the closed group is by ... the members themselves.

We expect the law to be challenged against the freedom of speech articles
contained in our constitution (art. 21), but as I said, sadly, until then,
all sites that carry news at "regular" times overhere in Italy are subject
to the new law.

Alfredo Cotroneo / NEXUS-IBA, Milan, Italy

At 15:08 12/04/2001 +0200, Carlo Daffara wrote:
>This is not true. The law talks about the extension of the benefits and
>requirements of the press (that is, fiscal and financial benefits and
>responsibility for the published materials). If you don't want the fiscal
>benefits, just don't register as an online journal, and the law doesn't
>apply to you. (directly from the words of the law promoter, at the
>national "radio 24").
>This is not to say that the law in itself is ok, (it is really badly
>written in terms of clarity) but that it is not really against freedom of
>cheers from Italy
>                                                 Carlo Daffara
>On Thu, 12 Apr 2001, WWWhatsup wrote:
> >
> >
> > http://www.politechbot.com/p-01911.html
> >
> >
> > > the new law recently
> > > approved in Italy to extend the rules for the press and
> > > periodical press to web sites and electronic press.
> > >
> > > The new law states that EVERY web site has to be
> > > considered as a press product, and it has to print the name
> > > of the publisher (or the editor) and the city where it is
> > > published (whatever this could mean).
> > >
> > > If the site includes news or is updated periodically, which
> > > would be the case of a webzine or of a site with a news
> > > section, it falls under these following laws valid for
> > > newspapers and periodical press:
> > >
> > > 1) it has to declare a responsible managing editor, that has
> > > to be enlisted in the professional Order of Journalists 2) it has
> > > to pay a tax (of about 200$) 3) it has to be registered in the
> > > lists of the tribunal of the city where it is published.
> > >
> >
> > > the entire text of the law (sorry, it's in
> > > Italian):
> > >
> > > http://www.interlex.it/testi/l01_62.htm
> > >
> > >
> >
> >

Alfredo E. Cotroneo, CEO,  NEXUS-Int'l Broadcasting Association
PO Box 11028, 20110, Milano, Italy           email: alfredo a nexus.org
ph: +39-335-214-614 (try first)/+39-02-266-6971 fax: +39-02-706-38151

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