Berlusconi blames row with Murdoch for media attacks

ROME, June 4 Thu Jun 4, 2009 4:31am EDT

ROME, June 4 (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday that articles in Britain's The Times newspaper attacking his government were due to a dispute with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWSA.O) over higher VAT on pay TV.

In an editorial entitled "The Clown's Mask Slips" on Monday, The Times slammed Berlusconi for alleged womanising and inappropriate behaviour after a scandal in Italy over his relationship with an aspiring teenage model, which prompted his wife to demand a divorce.

"I don't mean to be nasty but unfortunately with the episode on VAT for Sky there was a breakdown in relations with the Sky group and with Murdoch's group, which has published a series of very critical articles attacking me," Berlusconi said on the Canale 5 TV channel, which he owns.

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