Italian Media law sent back to Parliament
From DowJones.com Italy's president took the unusual step Monday of sending back to parliament a bill that would ease restrictions on media ownership - legislation that critics said could benefit Premier Silvio Berlusconi's media empire. The bill won parliamentary approval earlier this month, but without President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi's signature it must now be discussed anew in both chambers. If both approve it again, the bill must become law. Ciampi, whose role is largely ceremonial, issued a brief statement announcing that he had sent the legislation back to parliament. Last year, Ciampi sent a rare message to parliament, calling for a law that would ensure pluralism in the media. The center-left opposition has described the bill as tailor-made for Berlusconi. However, supporters of Berlusconi's conservative coalition contend that the new law will rejuvenate Italy's media and make them more competitive. Critics say the new legislation could allow Berlusconi's Mediaset SpA (MS.MI) to increase its Italian advertising revenue. Another aspect that has drawn scrutiny allows joint ownership of broadcasters and publishers starting in 2009. Since Berlusconi's empire includes both, critics say the bill was put together with him in mind.