Italian composer Nicola Piovani and Nobel winning playwright Dario Fo were among more than 15,000 people who attended a live show at the weekend to protest against censorship at Italian state broadcaster RAI.

The show was conducted by local comic Sabina Guzzanti, whose satirical TV programme was closed down by Italian state broadcaster RAI last week after just one program, despite scoring record-breaking audience numbers.

Only 2,400 people were actually able to get into see the live show, which was hosted in Rome's auditorium and was beamed simultaneously to theatres in 22 Italian cities. An estimated 15,000 lined the streets outside the auditorium.

Named 'RaiOT', Guzzanti's TV show took jabs at Silvio Berlusconi's government and leading international personalities.

Last week, RAI president Lucia Annunziata announced that the program would be temporarily taken off the airways to 'protect RAI from polemics, protests and legal action which have been raised after the first program was aired.'

RAI board member Marcello Veneziani said the program had 'made distorted and militant use of satire,' and called 'similar' use of public service television ' uncivil.'

Annunziata said: 'It is now up to Sabina Guzzanti and her collaborators to continue to work calmly and professionally on her programme.'

While Guzzanti has been able to carry on recording the remaining episodes of her series, RAI has asked to view every episode before it airs. There are no immediate plans to air the series.

Also attending the live show were polemical ex-RAI 2 head Carlo Freccero and TV talkshow host Michele Santoro.

Santoro, satirical comic Daniele Luttazzi and illustrious journalist Enzo Biagi were removed from the air last year.

All three RAI personalities had been critical of Berlusconi in the run-up to the 2001 national elections. Shortly before their removal the Italian prime minister had said the three RAI personalities should be fired because their use of state-run television had been 'criminal.'