Italy is once again in the throes of the political turmoil which has gripped its film and TV institutions for decades.

Two events this week have yet again shone the spotlight on Italian prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi.

Firstly, the Italian parliament has surprisingly failed to pass his government's controversial Gasparri media law, which has now been frozen until a special parliamentary commission re-examines it. And secondly, a new wave of controversy involving Berlusconi has hit public broadcaster RAI, after president Lucia Annunziata publicly said (twice) that the premier directly interfered in the broadcaster's programming and management decisions.

The Gasparri law, had been approved in December by both the Italian Parliament and the Italian Senate, where Berlusconi's centre-right coalition has a comfortable majority. However, later that month Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi dealt the premier a severe blow when he refused to sign the bill, which was widely seen as tailor-made to suit Berlusconi's business interests.

Ciampi, whose signature had been seen as a mere formality, instead sent the bill back to Parliament asking for changes to be made. Gasparri brought some modifications to the law, but when it was presented to Parliament again this week, in a secret ballot, 30 members of Berlusconi's own government voted with the opposition to reject several articles of law.

While the naysayers weren't sufficient in number to block the law, the articles of the bill were voted for with such a slim majority that the government decided to temporarily freeze voting and send the bill to the Parliament's commission.

Meanwhile, three of Rai's five board members have called on president Lucia Annunziata to resign, following her declarations this week - first to the foreign press association in Rome and then in front of the board itself - that Berlusconi personally made phone calls to RAI to influence programming and the hiring of managers.