Bill excluding Sardinian, Friulian from RAI broadcasts sparks protest

Law reform ignores both languages, spoken by hundreds of thousands in the Italian Republic · Bill says broadcasts in French, German, Slovenian should be programmed

A RAI station.
A RAI station. Author: Sailko
An underway reform of the law on Italy's public broadcaster RAI is excluding several minoritised languages while including others spoken in neighbouring kin states. The bill says broadcasts in French, German, Slovenian and Ladin -all of them in minority position within Italy- should be included in RAI's programming, but at the same time it ignores other languages spoken by hundreds of thousands of speakers such as Friulian and Ladin.

It is remarkable that, out of four languages mentioned in the bill, three -French, German and Slovenian- are official state languages in all the countries bordering Italy to the north -France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.

Yet, other languages spoken in Italy not being the official language of another state -Friulian, Sardinian, Catalan or Occitan- are not mentioned at all in the law.

In Friuli, Udine province president Pietro Fontanini has blamed the Italian government for not doing enough to respect the linguistic rights of Friulian speakers. Fontanini has asked all Friulian MPs to support an amendment to the law that includes provisions for the language. But prospects are dire: Friulian MP Gianna Malisani already introduced such a proposal, and it was rejected by Italian lawmakers.

If no change is accepted, Fontanini says he will bring the issue to the European level and also to the Constitutional Court under the grounds that the bill is a violation of article 6 of the Italian Constitution and of treaties signed by Italy.

Criticism from Sardinian groups, MPs

Regarding the bill's omission of Sardinian, associations such as the Institute Camillo Bellieni and the Coordination of Sardinian Language and Culture Operators have voiced similar allegations, as has been the case for MP Luciano Uras (Left Ecology Freedom), which in July sought to amend the bill to introduce a reference to Sardinian. His attempt was unsuccessful. Uras then said that Sardinians just "want to be equals among equals. This has to do with each one's conscience and sensitivity towards a community that is too often discriminated against."

Uras was joined in criticism by another MP, Roberto Cotti (5 Stars Movement), who said he could not understand why Sardinian, "perhaps Italy's most widely spoken language other than Italian, was being excluded" from the bill.