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RAI cancels talk show over charges of racism and sexism

Show featured Italian men discussing merits of east European women

Italian state broadcaster RAI apologised for the show.

Italian state broadcaster RAI apologised for the show.

Italian state television RAI said today it was scrapping a popular weekly talk show after the programme was widely attacked for using racist and sexist stereotypes about east European women.

A furore erupted on social media and among politicians after the programme, Let's discuss it on Saturday (Parliamone Sabato) featured a debate about why Italian men had good reason to choose east European women over Italian ones.

RAI's director general Antonio Dall'Orto said the Saturday afternoon show "undoubtedly contradicted" RAI's values, while Andrea Fabiano, head of the RAI 1 channel that broadcasts the programme, offered his "sincere apologies for what happened."

Thousands of women from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania and other eastern European countries have migrated to Italy over the last 20 years, often working as domestic helpers. Many have married Italian men.

Among alleged advantages of eastern European women cited by the show were that, unlike their Italian counterparts, they are "always sexy and don't wear baggy pyjamas" and they "forgive unfaithfulness".

It also debated other claims such as that, unlike Italians, they "learn how to do housework from a young age" and were "willing to let their man take the decisions."

Several senior politicians expressed outrage at the programme.

"It's unacceptable that in a television programme women are presented like domestic animals to be appreciated for their meekness, obedience and subservience," said Chamber of Deputies speaker Laura Boldrini.

Popular discontent towards RAI has grown since a recent reform by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi incorporated the licence fee in people's electricity bills, making it much harder to avoid paying it.

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