Berlusconi may reject parliament appearance


ROME -- Silvio Berlusconi, the three-time Italian prime minister and billionaire media tycoon, on Wednesday threatened not to appear in parliament to give his views on the ongoing media reform process, saying his comments would be "manipulated" by his political opponents.

Berlusconi was asked to appear before parliament in his role as the chairman of Mediaset, the broadcast and cinema giant he controls.

But Berlusconi said Wednesday that, after recent comments to the press were "manipulated and taken out of context" by his rivals, he will stay away from public appearances that could give those who oppose him fuel for their criticisms.

"Every time I speak, my words are manipulated and taken out of context," Berlusconi said. "Perhaps it is best I do not participate."

The reform process will reshape the rules for the media sector, including rules for advertising, the switchover to digital frequencies, and content guidelines. Parliament has asked several leading media figures to testify on their views about the reform.

Berlusconi is under investigation in at least three active criminal investigations, though he maintains his innocence in all cases.