Telejato

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Telejato
Telejato1.jpg
Launched 1989
Owned by Pino Maniaci
Slogan Una Voce dalla Sicilia ("A Voice from Sicily")
Country Italy
Broadcast area Palermo, Sicily
Headquarters Partinico
Website Telejato.it

Telejato was a small, local, independent television station based in the town of Partinico, in Sicily, Italy, broadcasting from 1989 up to 2017. It became widely known for its anti-Mafia reportage.

History[edit]

The station was founded in 1989 by Alberto Lo Iacono[1] and subsequently sold to the Italian Communist Refoundation Party (Partito della Rifondazione Comunista or PRC) which, in turn, sold it, in 1999, to Pino Maniaci, a Sicilian building contractor and entrepreneur.[2]

At the time of its purchase by Maniaci, the station was ostensibly in a state of "impending financial collapse", due to the debts incurred by its previous management.[3] Moreover, its classification as "community television" carried an advertising limit of three minutes per hour. Maniaci's stated intention was to turn his mostly family-run Telejato into a "miniature, amateur CNN", as he called it, and, therefore, "the world’s longest TV news programme"[3] was born, with a total of two hours of service, from 2:30 pm until 4:30pm.

Gradually, Telejato turned to investigative reportage, first turning its attention to local polluters.[3] The station has been sued "more than 200 times" from Distilleria Bertolino alone, on account of the many reportages carried out by Telejato into alleged pollution by the distillery factory.[3]

The Sicilian Mafia eventually became the station's main subject of reporting.

Audience[edit]

Telejato's signal covered the province of Palermo, with an approximate target viewership of 150,000 people.[3]

Intimidation[edit]

Pino Maniaci filming an event in memory of Giuseppe Impastato, in Cinisi, Sicily, May 2010

Telejato's owner and most of the people working there have reported receiving anonymous threats against their lives and their families' well-being, all of which, they claim, come from local Mafia bosses who are upset with the publicity caused by the station's anti-Mafia activity.

In 2007, Telejato's reporting on the unauthorised use of an extended land area by cattle barns that allegedly belonged to local, Mafia-affiliated families and had been operating there for more than twenty years, led to renewed threats. Pino's daughter, Letizia, hung placards outside the stables, reading "Stables of shame."[4] The next day, Pino Maniaci was allegedly beaten by two unknown teenagers in the street and taken to hospital. After receiving first aid assistance, Maniaci left the hospital and, with bruises and cuts visible on his face, went on the air to denounce from Telejato, once more, the ostensibly Maffia-run cattle business.[4] Soon after, the Italian carabinieri, in a combined anti-Mafia operation, closed down the illegal barns in the area.[4]

In July 2008, Pino Maniaci's car, parked outside his home, was "doused with gasoline" and set on fire.[5] This episode is part of what Maniaci claims is a constant process of threats, which manifests itself in "countless attacks", such as slashed tyres or severed brake cables in the cars he uses and even windscreens shattered by gunshots.[6]

Maniaci was subsequently granted police protection.[3]

The website of Telejato has often been blocked or rendered inaccessible to web search engines, allegedly as a result of Mafia-ordered hacking.[1]

In September 2011, many abusive and threatening graffiti messages appeared on the walls of the town of Partinico, such as "You've ruined this country!" and "The ruling has been issued", ostensibly directed against Maniaci.[7] The federation of Italian journalists and the Sicilian federation of journalists expressed their solidarity with Telejato.[7]

In December 2014, Maniaci found the two dogs he kept at home hung from a post near the station's studio.[8] Maniaci linked the incident to Telejato’s coverage of drug use in the area. “The city is awash with cocaine, and we have been going very hard on that,” he stated to the press. “Cosa Nostra is always behind things like that.”[8]

Accolades[edit]

Letizia Maniaci, Pino's daughter and Telejato's main reporter[6] (Maniaci's son Giovanni also works at the station[3]), has been awarded the Maria Grazia Cutuli journalism award for her work. Letizia Maniaci has written a book about her life, working in Telejato, which was published in Italy by Rizzoli, in March 2009.[9]

Adversities and closure[edit]

In 2009, Pino Maniaci was indicted by Palermo public prosecutor Paoletta Caltabellotta for exercising the journalistic profession "without the necessary state license."[10] The indictment did not reach the courts, as Maniaci was given honoris causa a journalistic license by the Italian federation of journalists.[10]

In April 2016, Salvo Lo Biundo and Gioacchino De Luca, the mayors of Partinico and Borgetto respectively, submitted a complaint against Maniaci, accusing him of demanding bribes so that Telejato "would go easy on them." Maniaci denied the charges, stating that the mayors were among those Telejato was almost daily reporting for incompetence. An investigation was opened by the office of the Palermo public prosecutor Nino Di Matteo.[11]

In May 2016, Palermo Deputy Prosecutor Vittorio Teresi detailed the accusations against Maniaci in a news conference where he attacked the journalist's status as "a champion of anti-corruption," stating: "The fight against the Mafia is done without personal interests. We do not need the anti-Mafia services of Mr. Pino Maniaci." Chief Prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi also appeared before the media, claiming Maniaci "has repeatedly shown a total disregard for established authority, the police and the judiciary." The Palermo authorities banned Maniaci away from Partinico, arguing he was "using his television show for leverage."[12]

On 4 April 2017, Maniaci announced with an online message that Telejato would close down, using the phrase, "Chi ci ama ci scusi. È stato bello." ("Who loves, forgives. It was beautiful.") Maniaci stated that it had become impossible to carry on because the "mud machine operated by the Carabinieri and the Palermo prosecutor's office had caused devastating damages, much more serious than the damage done to the station by the mafiosi who intimidate local businesses away from advertising on Telejato."[13]

Trial[edit]

The trial date was set for 19 July 2017, the anniversary of the 1992 Via D'Amelio bombing in which anti-Mafia magistrate Paolo Borsellino and five members of his police escort were assassinated.[14] Eleven defendants were named, variously charged with mafia association, extortion and real estate fraud, including Maniaci who was charged with extortion.[14]

On the opening day of the trial, the judge Benedetto Giaimo declared that no sound- or image-recording devices would be allowed in the court room, because, as he stated, "the trial holds no social interest," and postponed the trial for the 20th of September, 2017.[15] On the 20th of September, the judge reversed his decision and allowed cameras in the court room.[16] On 20 November 2017, the trial began, but judge Mauro Terranova, on account of some defendants not having being properly summoned, postponed commencement for 8 January 2018.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bloccato il sito di Telejato" ("Telejato's website blocked") Gli Italiani, 27 October 2010 (in Italian)
  2. ^ "Telecamere contro la Piovra" ("TV cameras against the Octopus") by Pietro Scaglione, Famiglia Cristiana magazine, 3 August 2008 (in Italian)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Bergamini, Mattia (18 November 2008). "Telejato: family-run, mini-CNN in Partinico, Sicily". cafébabel.  (cached page)
  4. ^ a b c "Familie Maniaci gegen die Mafia" ("The Maniaci family against the Mafia") by Georg Cadeggianini, Brigitte magazine, 18 March 2009 (in German)
  5. ^ "In fiamme auto di giornalista - Ancora una minaccia della mafia" ("Journalist's car in flames - Another threat by the mafia"), La Repubblica, 18 July 2008 (in Italian)
  6. ^ a b "Sicily's tiny anti-Mafia TV channel" BBC News, 6 October 2011
  7. ^ a b "Scritte contro giornalista tv nel palermitano" ("Written messages against Palermitan journalist"), ANSA, 3 September 2011 (in Italian)
  8. ^ a b "Journalist known for investigating mafia finds dogs hung from post" by John Hooper, The Guardian, 4 December 2014
  9. ^ Maniaci, Letizia Mai chiudere gli occhi ("Never close your eyes"), Rizzoli, Italy 2009, ISBN 978-88-17-03077-9
  10. ^ a b "A giudizio perché abusivo il direttore antimafia di Telejato" ("The anti-Mafia Telejato director taken to court for abuse"), Corriere della Sera, 30 March 2009 (in Italian)
  11. ^ "Pino Maniaci indagato: “Chiede soldi ai sindaci promettendo di non attaccarli”. Lui: “E’ falso, basta ascoltare i miei tg”" ("Pino Maniaci investigated: 'He asks money from the mayors, promising not to attack them.' Maniaci: 'It's fake, just listen to my newscast'") by Giuseppe Pipitone, Il Fatto Quotidiano, 22 April 2016 (in Italian)
  12. ^ "He goes after the mob; now he's the target" by Joel Labi, CNN report, 27 December 2016
  13. ^ "Telejato, chiude l’emittente di Pino Maniaci: 'Rovinati dalle querele'" ("Telejato, closed Pino Maniaci broadcasts: 'Ruined by the quarrels'") by F.Q., Il Fatto Quotidiano, 4 April 2017 (in Italian)
  14. ^ a b "Palermo, a giudizio per estorsione il giornalista antimafia Pino Maniaci" ("Palermo charges with extortion the antimafia journalist Pino Maniaci") by F.Q., Il Fatto Quotidiano, 5 April 2017 (in Italian)
  15. ^ "Processo a Pino Maniaci: niente riprese audio e niente video! Ed è subito polemica" ("Pino Maniaci trial: No audio and no video allowed! And it is immediately controversial"), Il Nuovi Vespri, 20 July 2017(in Italian)
  16. ^ "Processo a Pino Maniaci: tribunale ammette telecamere" ("Pino Maniaci trial: court admits cameras"), Sicialian News, 20 September 2017 (in Italian)
  17. ^ "Processo a Pino Maniaci di Telejato per estorsione e diffamazione rinviato a gennaio" ("Trial of Telejato's Pino Maniaci for extortion and defamation postponed to January"), Il Sito di Sicilia, 20 november 2017 (in Italian)

External links[edit]