In today’s episode of When Septuagenarian Media Moguls Attack!, 72-year-old Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says News Corp (NWS) and its chairman Rupert Murdoch are after more than just a good story with all its coverage of the news that he might have slept with an 18-year-old model named Noemi Letizia.
During an interview with one of his many TV stations, Berlusconi said the negative coverage actually started when his Italian government doubled News Corp satellite TV provider Sky Italia’s taxes in December.
“I don’t mean to be nasty, but unfortunately with the VAT episode there was a breakdown in relations with the Sky group and with Murdoch’s group, which has published a series of very critical articles attacking me. The clown’s mask slips.”
In an interview with Fox Business News, one of the many TV channels he owns, Rupe denied the charge.
“I don’t control what the editor of The Times says in London or the economists which have been attacking him, saying it’s a disgrace to have him as prime minister for the last five years.”
Berlusconi’s Fininvest and News Corp Sky Italia are locked in a tight battle over control of Italy’s satellite TV business. Fininvest has always been the down-market alterative, relying on advertising to make up for fewer paying subscribers. But with the ad-market drying up, it’s trying to cut into News Corp property Sky Italia’s 4.9 million-strong customer base.