Ossigeno Legal Aid to reporter sued by Ceo of Rai, Fabrizio Salini

The journalist Marco Antonellis spoke about appointments and waste in an interview given to the tv programme Striscia la Notizia.

 OSSIGENO 2 October 2023 – The Legal Desk of Ossigeno per l’Informazione, which operates in collaboration with Media Defence, has taken up the defence of the journalist Marco Antonellis, entrusting it to the lawyer Andrea Di Pietro.

In April 2021, the journalist  to was sued by Fabrizio Salini, CEO of the state broadcaster Rai at the time, who accused him of defamation aggravated by the use of television media, in relation to an interview that the journalist gave for a news report on Striscia la Notizia  which was broadcast on the 30th  November 2020. In this report, with the usual satirical tone of Striscia program, some of RAI’s spending choices are criticised, in particular with reference to the appointments of new network directors, deemed superfluous.

The criminal proceedings resulting from this lawsuit are pending at the Court of Rome and are in the preliminary investigation phase.

Marco Antonellis is a well-known journalist expert on Rai issues. He writes articles and comments daily on various online newspapers and is often a guest on television programs in which topics relating to the world of television are discussed.

Marco Antonellis, in his interview included in the “Striscia la Notizia” report, had limited himself to citing some objective and verifiable data on the number of managers and directors employed at Rai at that time. They were more numerous than those in the private television channels. He had commented on these figures cautiously and without sensationalism, adding that the trend of RAI’s accounts gave little scope for expansion and that, to balance income and expenditure, the then minister of economics and finance, Roberto Gualtieri, had had to allocate an extra budget of 85 million of euro. Considerations that do not seem and are not defamatory.

Marco Antonellis considered the decision to sue him perplexing. Ossigeno maintains that Fabrizio Salini’s reaction is disproportionate and therefore has a discouraging effect on those who have critical opinions on the management of RAI, a company which due to its public nature and the public service it is required to offer has a duty of transparency towards viewers and cannot be considered exempt from comments and criticism.

Yet, two years later it is still not clear for which statement the journalist has been sued by one of the company’s top executives.

The Legal Desk of Ossigeno took up the defence believing that Marco Antonellis can easily demonstrate that he correctly exercised the right to report and criticise in answering the questions from the presenter of the Striscia programme, providing viewers with objective data taken from Rai’s own financial statements without, however, specifically mentioning any director.

This story highlights once again the condition of opinion leaders and guest commentators on television programs who express their opinions at their own risk, without the publishing companies that produce the programs assuming the commitment to legally assist them in the event of a lawsuit. In Ossigeno‘s opinion they should do so, given that in Italy, for various reasons, there is a high risk of long and expensive trials to have the correctness of one’s actions recognized. Those who are aware of this risk tend to protect themselves by self-censoring.


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