BBC pedophilia docu causes stir in Italy


ROME -- As a debate rages about whether Italy's state broadcaster should air a controversial BBC-produced documentary that looks into pedophilia linked with Roman Catholic priests, pirated versions of the program have been translated into Italian and become most-viewed program ever on Google Video's Italian site.

"Sex Crimes and the Vatican" aired in the U.K. in October, and state broadcaster RAI acquired rights to broadcast it in Italy soon after. But debate has raged over whether the program should be aired in such a highly Catholic country, home to the Vatican, which lies within the city limits of the Italian capital.

Center-right parliamentarian Mario Landolfi, the head of the legislature's RAI oversight body, reportedly asked the broadcaster to not air the program. RAI directors say they are mulling their options, and some RAI journalists have called Landolfi's request a form of censorship.

Newspaper editorials are split on the subject. The Catholic daily "Avvenire" called the program "dubious slander." But left-wing daily "Il Manifesto" said RAI had a "moral obligation" not to kowtow to the controversy.

Some newspapers report that other broadcasters -- most notably Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset and Telecom Italia Media's La 7 -- could look to acquire rights to broadcast the documentary, though both companies declined comment.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of Italians have already seen it. A 39-minute subtitled version of the program has been in Google Video's Italy unit's Top 5 for more than a week.