Mondadori, the Italian print and publishing mammoth controlled by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, is to acquire Italy’s largest radio group, Radio Italia Network – a move that will do nothing to allay mounting concern at the premier’s increasing control of the nation's media.

The deal also includes radio syndication company CNR, news agency AGR and niche advertising agency Editoriale Sper.

Berlusconi's Italian media portfolio already includes the country's three biggest TV networks, its number two news magazine, a metropolitan newspaper, a major advertising shop and diverse internet and sports-related ventures.

Response to the 64-year-old tycoon’s latest coup has been strangely muted given the concern raised during the run-up to his election earlier this year. Even Francesco Rutelli, parliamentary opposition leader and leadership rival, who during the hustings voiced his “concern” over Berlusconi’s media control, remains silent.

Comments Rome-based political analyst Gerard Maton: “Perhaps people don't realize what has happened yet, or perhaps they are resigned to the fact that one man is slowly gaining an unprecedented control over Italy's media.”

The acquisition requires the approval of Italy’s antitrust authorities.

News source: AdAge Global