Italy headed for news blackout

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ROME -- Italian television and radio journalists have called a two-day strike for Dec. 18-19, creating the likelihood of a news blackout on the nation's airwaves.

The journalists said Friday that they are lobbying for higher base wages, greater compensation for overtime and superior benefits. The strike could still be averted, the FNSI union said, but that was unlikely.

"FIEG (the editor's union) refuses to sit at the table to discuss this and so a strike will be necessary," a statement from FNSI said.

FIEG did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.

Contracts for television and radio journalists expire at the end of this year. Print journalists -- whose contracts expire at the end of 2007 -- will not be part of the strike.

The last time Italy suffered from a journalists' strike was in 2004, when television, print and radio journalists all walked off the job for 48 hours.
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