Media and Sports Code

Country:

Preamble

The radio and television broadcasting stations and the suppliers of signatory contents or adherent to signatory associations, the Order of Journalists, The National Federation of Italian Press, the Union of Italian Sports Press, the Italian Federation of Newspaper Editors, from now on referred to as parties;

considering the frequency with which on the occasion of sports events, particularly related to soccer, serious crimes with sometimes tragic consequences have been perpetrated against the physical integrity and the dignity of individuals, as well as against private and public property;

acknowledging that these phenomena of violence and vandalism have caused indignation and alarm in citizens, leading the Government and the Parliament to adjust the requirements regarding public order during sports events in a more rigorous way;

understanding that the episodes of violence often involve young individuals and minors;

considering the need to ensure, according to the modalities prescribed by this Code, that no messages of incitement or legitimation towards the transgression of the Law are communicated through the different mass media in sports information;

considering the need to contribute to the diffusion of sports positive values which, as the international Codes and Declarations state, put competitive spirit to the service of the correct and peaceable development of human relationships;

sharing the principles stated by the Community Directive "Television Without Frontiers" and in its revision for audiovisual media not to contain any incitement to hatred;

sharing the prohibition of transmissions which contain messages of incitement to hatred or that may lead to behaviors of intolerance, according to what is prescribed by the Radio and Television Regulation;

approving action to address the Authorities for the warrants in the communication on the relationship between information and the fundamental rights of the individual;

conscious of the contribution that the mass media - from the traditional to the newest ones, also thanks to the interlacing of their messages - may provide to condemn, in the eyes of public opinion, violence connected to sports events and soccer in particular;

conscious of the rights of the journalists to have the widest possible access to sports information sources, which cannot undergo undue restrictions incompatible with the right to report;

following in the footprints of an autonomous tradition of self-discipline which, starting with the Treviso Code and the Journalists' Charter of Duties, has strengthened in time the necessary right/duty balance of information with the other constitutionally guaranteed rights, among which those relative to citizens' personal security and to the protection of minors;

considering that the incitation to transgress the Law, as well as the resort to threat and to abuse are in any case in contradiction with the public role of the information media as stated by the current legislation and by its legal interpretations;

after a major confrontation on the occasion of the "Commission for the elaboration of a Self-Regulation Code of commentary transmissions on sports events", initiated by the decree of the Minister of Communications and the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Activities on May 17th, 2007 to start what was prescribed by Article 34, Paragraph 6bis of the Legislative Decree no. 177/2005 as modified by Law no. 41/2007;

having heard the associative and institutional subjects interested in the matter, such as the party responsible for the Soccer League and those of the National Observatory on Sports Events founded by the Ministry of the Interior by Decree on December 1st, 2005 to counter the phenomena of violence on the occasion of sports competitions;

having noted the need for the Parliament and the Government to harmonize the current normative and regulatory scene of the different media in regards to public order and to the right to information relative to sports events;

adopt this Self-Regulation Code, subsequently named the "Media and Sports Code":

Article 1: General Principles

  1. This Code on sports information refers to the information transmitted to a large number of recipients, by different media which discusses only in the form of reports, commentaries, radio and television debates, with guests in the studio or connected from outside, sports events in general and soccer events in particular.
  2. In the diffusion of sports information, whether in or outside of newspaper headlines, the parties always ensure the observance of the principles of lawfulness, fairness, and the respect for individuals' dignity, even in the diversity of the respective opinions.
  3. With what is prescribed by Article 2 being understood, the parties are committed to avoid any kind of incitement or legitimation of behaviors in contradiction with the rules of Law.
  4. The duties hereby noted deriving from the legislation on the press, from that on radio and television broadcasters and that on the Order of Journalists, are taken as exceptions.

Article 2: Right to Sports Information

  1. The commentary of sports events must be carried out in the different media in a manner that is respectful of the dignity of individuals, other subjects, and interested organized bodies, with a clear distinction between the story of the facts and the personal opinions that one may have about them.
  2. The parties are committed in any case to avoid resorting to threatening or abusive expressions towards individuals or groups of people, such as for instance athletes, teams, rival fans, referees, umpires, journalists, police forces, organizers of sports events, ethnic groups, or religious denominations.
  3. The parties ensure correct information relative to the crimes committed on the occasion of sports events, considering their social relevance.
  4. In all respects of their editorial autonomy, the parties commit to sensure all conduct taking place on the occasion of sports events that are prejudicial to the physical integrity of individuals, of their dignity, and of public and private property.
  5. Acknowledging that images are an essential part of the sports information, in cases where particularly strong and shocking images or expressions are used, the host or commentator will take care to warn the spectators, explaining that the images about to be transmitted are not suitable for young audience.

Article 3: Hosting of Radio and Television Programs

  1. Broadcasters and content suppliers will ensure that the hosts of programs of sports information have a suitable knowledge of the present Code, likewise of the above-mentioned regulation, and of the rules which govern the practice of each sport discipline discussed in the transmissions under their responsibility.
  2. In cases of violation of the regulations in this Code by anybody during radio and television transmissions, and transmissions of live sports commentary, guests, members of the audience, telephonic interlocutors, and interlocutors via the Internet included, the host will promptly dissociate the broadcasting station from the content supplier - up until the arrangement of a pause in the transmission, a connection interruption, or the removal of the party responsible if needed - to lead the program back onto the track of fairness.
  3. In case of recorded transmissions, the broadcasters and content suppliers are committed to exercise preventive control over their content, excluding the broadcasting episodes which represent a violation of this Code.
  4. Broadcasters and content suppliers are in all ways committed, in case of a violation of the Code, to publicise on the next available edition of the program in which the violation was committed, or in another program by the same broadcaster, a message in which the editor, the broadcaster, and the content suppliers themselves dissociate themselves from the event, expressing their disapproval.
  5. Broadcasters and content suppliers reserve the right to evaluate the suitability of the subjects responsible for violations to the regulations of this Code to participate in further sports information or close examination transmissions, considering the seriousness of possible repetitions of the violation, as well as the behavior of the interested party subsequent to the violation.
  6. Broadcasters and content suppliers are committed to apply, in all respects of what is prescribed by the Code as to handling of personal data, measures able to identify the subjects who connect to the transmissions by telephone, through audio, or audio-video communication systems.

Article 4: Promotion of Sports Values

  1. With special attention towards youth and minors and as a contribution to their cultural, civil, and social growth, the parties are committed to disseminate the positive values of sport and the spirit of loyalty connected to such values in the specific containers of sports events, also through formative campaigns agreed upon and put into effect with national and local institutions.

Article 5: Surveillance

  1. The control of the respect of this Code is entrusted to the Authority for the Protection of Communications. Possible violations concerning journalists are notified by the Communications Authority to the Professional Order to which the party concerned belongs.

Article 6: Sanctions and Commitments

  1. In case of violation of this Code, the sanctions mentioned in Article 35, Paragraph 4bis of the Radio and Television Regulation will be applied to the subjects mentioned in Article 34, Paragraph 3, of the same Text.
  2. A notice about the sanctions is to be given to public administrations competent for any possible measures of support in favor of the radio and television broadcaster.
  3. A notice about the sanction is to be given to CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee), to the Sports Federations, to the Leagues, and to the Union of Sports Press for any possible measures of competence as to access to stadiums.
  4. For local television and radio enterprises, compliance with this Code constitutes a requirement for admissibility described in Article 45, Paragraph 3, of Law no. 448, December 23rd, 1998, and subsequent changes and integrations.
  5. For the journalists possibly involved, the sanctions will be those decided by their Professional Order.