Sky Italia to Broadcast Controversial Anti-Berlusconi Documentary

girlfriend_in_a_coma - H 2012

"Girlfriend in a Coma" is ultra-critical of the prime ministerial candidate and media tycoon, who controls Sky-Italia's main rival.

ROME – A day after it was revealed that the Italian premiere of a new documentary critical of media mogul and prime ministerial candidate Silvio Berlusconi at Rome’s MAXXI Museum would be pushed back until after this month’s elections, satellite broadcaster Sky-Italia announced it would screen the film as part of a special “Cultpolitik” series.

Italian Minister of Culture Lorenzo Ornaghi and MAXXI Museum head Giovanna Melandri, a former minister of culture, said Monday they would postpone the premiere of Girlfriend in a Coma, originally scheduled for Feb. 13, until after the Feb. 24-25 elections, saying airing such a critical documentary during the campaign would be “unfair.”

The decision was attacked by the film’s producers and in many Italian media, sparking a petition that by Tuesday afternoon had gathered more than 25,000 signatures.

Italian newspapers reported that Sky-Italia, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., would screen the film as part of a special series of political films on its Sky Cinema Cult channel Feb. 11-15.

Girlfriend in a Coma is based on the book Good Italy, Bad Italy written by former editor of The Economist Bill Emmot, who co-wrote the documentary along with Italian journalist Annalisa Piras. Piras is also the film’s director.

The documentary details Italy's "decline" during the years it was led by Berlusconi, noted for a long series of personal and legal scandals.

In recent years, Sky-Italia has emerged as the leading rival to the three traditional free-to-air networks controlled by Berlusconi’s Mediaset. The broadcaster’s offer to host a debate between the major candidates ahead of the election is still officially open, though it’s likely the decision to screen Girlfriend in a Coma will mean Berlusconi could refuse to participate in a debate event. Berlusconi was already seen as likely to balk because of Sky-Italia’s rivalry with Mediaset.

The film has previously screened in London and New York. The Sky-Italia screening will be the film's Italian premiere.