[IT] COVID-19: Agcom suspends two TV programmes for broadcasting content prejudicial to health
Francesco Di Giorgi
Autorità per le garanzie nelle comunicazioni (AGCOM)
On 14 April 2020, the Italian Communications Authority (Agcom) ordered a six-month suspension of the activity of content dissemination by audiovisual media services on channel 880 of digital satellite (SAT) and channel 61 of digital terrestrial (DTT) exercised by Italian Broadcasting Srl and Mediacom Srl respectively, following the broadcasting of the programme The Health Seeker and the special What they didn't tell you about the Corona-virus in relation to Adriano Panzironi's Life120 method. Panzironi is an Italian journalist, known for being the creator and promoter of a diet called Life 120, devoid of scientific validation.
The two investigations were initiated following the declaration of a state of national emergency related to the health risk associated with COVID-19. By means of Resolutions Nos. 152/20/CONS and 153/20/CON, Agcom found the violation of provisions that impose respect for public health and prohibit encouraging behaviours that can endanger it. Similar investigations have been initiated against various local broadcasters by the competent Regional committees for communications (Corecom).
The Authority found that the programmes in question had disseminated content, commercial and otherwise, potentially liable to endanger the health of consumers users by underestimating the potential risks connected with COVID-19, as well as the belief that the virus itself could be treated or prevented with non-therapeutic measures, just with dietary measures or supplements. Such content, also associated with the promotion and direct sales of Life 120 supplements, could consequently cause viewers to have reduced awareness and fail to apply due caution with respect to health risks, thus being harmful to the health of consumers/users. This conduct was considered particularly serious as the authors and the presenter of the programmes in question used a communication method based on the susceptibility of the average viewer in order to propose, by associating it with the issues related to the COVID-19 epidemic, the promotion of the lifestyle and the marketing of Life 120 products, offering them, if not as an alternative, at least as an essential complement to the therapeutic indications issued by the health authorities.
The same channel 61 was already sanctioned in 2019 (Resolution 72/19/CSP) for a similar case related to the format The Health Search and the promotion of the Life 120 method, proposed as a remedy to the indications of “official” or dogmatic medicine, as Panzironi himself defines it.
- Delibera N. 153/20 /Cons
- Resolution N. 153/20/ CONS
- Delibera N. 152/20 / CONS
- Resolution N. 152/20 / CONS
This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.