Hungarian Government statement

There is a convergent authority showing similarities with its Hungarian counterparty [in] Italy (AGCOM).43

country experts

Marco Bellezza (PhD) is an expert in European media law, internet law and intellectual property law. He graduated cum laude at the Faculty of Law of University of Bari 'Aldo Moro' in 2005, and holds a PhD in private law from the University of Bari. In addition to his academic work, he has been a practicing attorney in media and communications law at a national law firm in Italy since 2009. He is member of the editorial board of the journal and president of the Apulian Centre for Intellectual Property, a research center associated with the University of Bari. He recently completed a study on the implementation of EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive at the Institute of European and Comparative Law at the University of Oxford.

Oreste Pollicino (PhD) is an associate professor of comparative public law in the Department of Law at Bocconi University in Milan. His research areas include European and comparative constitutional Law, media law, and Internet law. He is the editor of International Journal of Communications Law and Policy, and a member of the editorial board of Diritto Pubblico comparato ed europeo, Panoctica, Revista Eletrônica Acadêmica de Direito, and


Expert assessment

It is true that Italy's Communications Regulatory Authority (Autorità per le garanzie nelle comunicazioni - AGCOM) is formally a "convergent" regulatory authority. However, the agency has yet to establish itself as the sole media regulatory body in Italy.44 When AGCOM was created in the 1997, Italian legislators aimed to design a single authority that could exercise different regulatory competencies in the fields of telecommunications, publishing and broadcasting. But at present this process is not yet complete. In practice, AGCOM shares regulatory responsibilities with a number of other state bodies, including the Department of Communications of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Parliamentary Commission for Public Service Broadcasting, the Antitrust Authority, and the Privacy Authority. In addition, Italy's Constitutional Court (Corte Costituzionale) plays a key role in shaping and defining media regulation, including AGCOM's powers. All journalists in Italy are also supervised by the Order of Journalists,45 a professional order under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, which manages mandatory registration for all professional journalists and monitors compliance with the professional codes and duties.

AGCOM was established as an independent authority by the Maccanico Law, which was adopted by Italian lawmakers in 1997 after the Constitutional Court ruled that the antitrust provisions in the 1990 Broadcast Law (Law No 223/1990) were inadequate to ensure media pluralism. 46 As Italy's "convergent" media regulator, AGCOM's regulatory competencies include all media sectors: press, online press, broadcast (public and commercial), telecommunications and electronic communications. Its current remit over print and online press, however, extends to registration requirements only; it has no authority to supervise these media for compliance with content regulations.47

AGCOM's primary duties are to ensure competition within the broadcasting, audiovisual and telecommunications sectors by monitoring compliance with anti-trust laws, resolving disputes between operators, and managing Italy's media register, the Register of Communications Operators (Roc).48 It is charged with supervising the content and quality of media services, resolving disputes between operators and the public, ensuring media pluralism and media accessibility for disadvantaged groups. AGCOM's specific tasks include monitoring compliance with licensing agreements and with content regulations contained in Italy's various media laws.

AGCOM's management structure consists of a general secretariat and five units: 1) electronic communication, networks and service; 2) audiovisual contents and media; 3) market analysis and competition; 4) consumer protection; 5) training, research and study. AGCOM does not have a separate complaints commission, but it is important to point out that all AGCOM's decisions are subject to the judicial review made by the Regional Administrative Courts (Tar- Tribunali Amministrativi Regionali), and on appeal, by the Supreme Administrative Court (Consiglio di Stato).

As noted, AGCOM regulates the broader media, electronic communications and telecommunications fields in cooperation with a number of other state bodies. The Ministry of Economic Development's Communications Department prepares legislative proposals and policy guidelines for the broadcasting sector and also carries out administrative functions related licensing and frequency allocation. The Parliamentary Commission on Radio-Television Services supervises the pluralism of the media; it checks, in particular, the coverage allotted to political parties during elections on Italy's public broadcaster, RAI. The Antitrust Authority (AGCM) supervises the competitive telecommunications market, including advertising in audiovisual and electronic media. Italian courts in fact recently decided a case on the division of competencies between AGCOM and Antitrust Authority (AGCM) in the field of consumer protection. The Regional Administrative Court of Lazio ruled that AGCOM's powers did not extend to monitoring unfair commercial practices, but rather that this is the responsibility of AGCM.49

43 See "Criticism 10," in "Criticisms and answers formulated on the subject of the proposed media act examined in a European context," December 20, 2010. 44 The Communications Regulatory Authority (AGCOM), available at:
45 See website of Order of Journalists, available at:
46 The Maccanico Law (Law No. 247/1997), available in Italian at:
47 Italy's print and online press are regulated under the Press Law of 1948, the Constitution, provisions in the penal codes and by the courts.
48 AGCOM operates on the basis of annual license fees from media operators, the contribution for licensing satellite broadcast, the concession of sports broadcasting rights and from the fee payable by the owner of services of tariff comparison for electronic communications services.
49 Tar Lazio decision no. 19893 of June 22th 2010, available at: