The Italian Almanac

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Paolo Bonolis

Italian Television - November 9

Italy's top television personality started a civil war at Premier Silvio Berlusconi's TV network Sunday with an extraordinary outburst on its flagship soccer show. Paolo Bonolis, who presents Mediaset's "Serie A" highlights programme, amazed viewers and aired the broadcaster's dirty laundry with a live attack on its head of sport Ettore Rognoni.

The 11-minute monologue, which newspapers have dubbed the 'tele-sermon', outraged the network's sports journalists. Later in the evening, Sandro Piccinini - the presenter of another Mediaset soccer show, Controcampo - said: "by insulting our director, Bonolis has insulted all of us and we do not accept it."

The attack was also criticized by independent media pundits in the press. Bonolis, who earns eight million euros a year at Mediaset, was replying to recent newspaper reports that his show is in trouble, after failing to hit viewer-number targets. He insisted all was well, but then contradicted himself with the attack on Rognoni, which confirmed reports of friction with the sports department.

Bonolis was put in charge of the show after Mediaset outbid state network Rai for the Serie A highlights package in the summer. It was the first time the highlights were not screened by Rai's 90' Minuto programme, which had run for over 30 years and was something of a national institution.

Bonolis' production has consistently failed to secure the same share of viewers that 90' Minuto garnered. A wisecracking entertainer, Bonolis tried to broaden the appeal of the highlights package with gags, interviews with famous people and various other gimmicks. All this, however, means fans have to wait longer to see the clips of their favourite team. The result seems to have been something of a turn-off.