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Viewers stunned as Vatican TV goes blank

The Rome transmission of a Catholic television station was blacked out by city authorities during a televised Mass last week.

The move came as Rome's Mayor Walter Veltroni stepped up his campaign against the so-called 'electro-smog' sparked by the profusion of what he claims are illegal TV transmitters.

Viewers tuning in for a 9:00 am Mass were shocked when their screens went blank after the authorities shut down the Vatican TV transmitter and several others which are situated on the Monte Mario hill overlooking the city, claiming the transmitters are 'illegal.'

The news came as a shock to Telepace's president Monsignor Guido Todeschini, who was told all the transmitters on the hill, which include several owned by Italian prime minister and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, had allegedly been established on the hill without proper building permission.

The city authorities said they used local government planning legislation to take action after the mast owners lost a recent court battle to block the campaign.

"We cannot accept all this, because the Word of God cannot be chained," said Mgr Todeschini, who indicated that he was already searching for an alternative site. "We'll do all we can to ensure that this voice continues to shout from the rooftops. I may have to act against the law. I am even ready to have them chain me."

He blamed the city's mayor for not understanding the purpose of the television station. However, many observers are confident that the station will soon be back on the air.

The Universe

Rome Pulls Plug on Pope TV Broadcaster (AP)
Telepace blackout, director protests (AGI)
Report reopens Vatican Radio antenna controversy (14/5/02)

11 Aug 2003