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How ‘Le Monde’ lined Italy’s Berlusconi, from grasping businessman to predatory politician


The funeral of Italy’s former prime minister occurred in Milan on Wednesday, a day of nationwide mourning in Italy. His identify first appeared within the columns of the each day newspaper on February 7, 1978, when ‘Il Cavaliere’ constructed himself an industrial empire.

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Silvio Berlusconi has reached the top of his 9 lives. The previous Italian prime minister, perpetually resurrecting energy – be it political, financial, media or sports activities – died of leukemia in Milan on Monday, June 12 at 86. It was the top of a life that noticed the elegant and the grotesque battle it out.

Berlusconi’s “life” within the columns of Le Monde started on February 7, 1978, underneath the byline of Mario Fasanotti. On that day, the journalist centered on the Milanese native’s industrial “journey” within the development sector. Italy, rising from the post-war financial growth, was struggling to construct sufficient housing; it wanted to put off “the craft trade,” wrote Fasanotti.

It was good timing: Berlusconi, who was 41 on the time, was already credited with the development of Milano 2 in 1969, a satellite tv for pc metropolis on the outskirts of Milan. He had additionally simply taken over as head of a “consortium for industrialized development,” COEDIN. The latter supplied “turnkey cities” with “homes, colleges, leisure and sports activities amenities, and buying and assembly facilities.” “This new colossus employs 40,000 individuals, has a turnover of round 1,500 billion lire, and is ready to function in over 40 international locations,” the journalist wrote. These had been stable foundations upon which to construct an empire.

He voraciously devoured the airwaves

The second flooring of the Berlusconi constructing was occupied by the media. On the time, Italian tv was within the grip of the “legislation of the jungle,” which, “within the identify of freedom of expression” reaffirmed by a Constitutional Courtroom ruling in 1976, acknowledged “the precise to broadcast on the native stage,” as Le Monde‘s Rome correspondent Philippe Pons identified on July 23, 1983. Competitors was fierce, nevertheless: The variety of non-public TV stations was minimize by an element of three within the house of some months between 1981 and 1982. “Non-public tv in Italy is now not in its pioneering part when the neighborhood community broadcast some saucy housewife’s striptease,” Pons stated, seemingly upset. By no means worry: “Silvio” was right here.

The entrepreneur based Canale 5 in 1979. 4 years later, it was “nipping on the heels of RAI Channel 2 when it comes to viewers scores” and generated “over 200 billion lire in promoting income,” the journalist reported. The important thing to its success? Drama exhibits purchased in bulk from the USA; a star presenter – Mike Bongiorno – poached from the RAI; in addition to “a voluptuous showgirl,” Milly Carlucci, whose hourly price amounted to 150 million lire.

Berlusconi voraciously devoured the airwaves, to the purpose the place, in 1985, his channels accounted for nearly three-quarters of the nation’s viewing time; he had acquired Italia 1 and Rete 4 within the meantime. The person from Milan then turned his consideration to France. In an interview with journalist Annick Cojean, he set out his ambitions and, by Le Monde, addressed the French authorities, who managed the appropriation of tv channels.

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