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TV Director Quits Over Child Porn

October 2, 2000

ROME (AP) _ The news director of Italian state television’s primary station resigned Sunday, taking the blame for allowing graphic images of child pornography to air in a prime-time report.

The broadcast, seen by more than 7 million people, stunned the country. In the ensuing uproar, RAI-TV came under attack from the Vatican, the Parliament, the president, the prime minister, politicians on both the left and the right, family and child advocates and a host other news organizations.

Gad Lerner, who had been at the helm of RAI-Uno just three months, tendered his resignation on Thursday, the day after the broadcast. But the governing board of RAI-TV refused to accept it.

Despite that vote of confidence, Lerner, a veteran journalist many had hoped would inject new life into state TV’s news operation, said Sunday he was quitting.

RAI-Uno announced his decision at the beginning of the prime-time news Sunday.

Lerner, who has admitted he didn’t even know what would be on the news the night of the broadcast, said that he was leaving because he had failed to supervise what was on the show.

He also said it wasn’t fair that only lower-ranking RAI employees had paid for the mistake with their jobs.

Lerner’s counterpart at another RAI channel, Tre, had also offered to resign but the RAI board allowed him, like Lerner, to stay on.

An anchorman and two assistant news directors lost their jobs over the Wednesday night broadcasts. Both RAI-Uno and RAI-Tre used similarly graphic footage of naked children and a video clip of a man apparently having sex with a little girl.

It was part of a report on the arrest of 11 people allegedly involved in a Russian-run child porn ring that sold its wares through a graphic online catalogue. Its offerings reportedly included ``snuff″ films of children being murdered.

Update hourly