The Italian Almanac

the great wizard

Italian News - March 10

Italy's soothsayers and magicians were contemplating a future condemned to darkness yesterday after the national media watchdog said it was banning them from daytime television.

Scores of tiny regional and private channels teem with programmes featuring tarot readers and others claiming prophetic powers. Their activities have become a matter of concern in a country where superstitious beliefs are increasing.

An official of the communications guarantee authority said the ban was "to combat any kind of exploitation of superstition or credulity among members of the public". Yesterday's announcement also came against the background of debate about the alleged spread of devil worship among young people.

The fortune-tellers and astrologers who sell their services on minor TV channels have nothing to do with devil worship, but some have been caught up in scandals involving the deception or extortion of clients.

A survey last year found that 9-10m Italians were using the services of card readers and faith healers, and 21,500 were making a living from it.