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PBS Alterations To Medici Web Site, "Cosmetic And Superficial," Sons of Italy® Charges

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900

WASHINGTON, DC - April 14, 2004 ­ The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has revised its interactive Web site on the Medicis, but the site still presents members of this Italian Renaissance family as violent and immoral, charges the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA).

March 18, OSIA was informed of changes to the Medici Web site in letters from both PBS President Pat Mitchell and Ron Devillier, president of Devillier, Donegan Enterprises (DDE), the documentary production company that co-produced the series and the Web site.

Mitchell and Devillier were responding to OSIA's complaint about the site sent to both executives and PBS Board Chairman Alberto Ibarguen on Feb. 18.

OSIA took action after PBS aired nationally in February its four-part series, The Medicis: Godfathers of the Renaissance and launched the related Web site,

The series presents the Medicis as Mafia chieftains while the related Web site, states "the Medicis clawed their way to the top, sometimes through bribery, corruption and violence."

The Medici Web site fails to point out that this famous family acquired power through many means that included business loans, real estate, political patronage and good relations with the powerful. The same tools are used today in business and politics in this country and the rest of the world.

Complaints from OSIA, other organizations and concerned viewers prompted PBS to change its Web site, but the changes are "cosmetic and superficial," according to OSIA.

They consist largely of re-wording the titles to some sections while leaving the sections themselves unchanged. For example, the section How to be a Medieval Mobster is now called Snapshots: The Medicis, but the text still presents the Medici biographies as police rap sheets.

The former Guys and Dolls section has been renamed Private Lives, but the contents still contain the same lurid descriptions of the reported sex lives of the Medicis and the Popes, including such gratuitous details as "young boys leaping naked from cakes" and a woman "famously impregnated" by a Medici.

OSIA also examined the Web sites that PBS and DDE created for the documentaries on the civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Islam and Japan among others. None of these Web sites uses scandalous and salacious details to attract and engage young minds or pander to pop culture.

April 13 the Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), OSIA's anti-defamation arm, contacted PBS and DDE, telling them the changes did not go far enough and urging them to give the Medicis the same objective treatment given the historical figures on the other sites that make up the PBS "Empires" series.

"We are prepared to advise our supporters as well as the larger American viewing audience to take note of PBS's failure to correct this situation and to remove their support of PBS," says CSJ National President Albert De Napoli, Esq.

The PBS Web site is the most visited "" site in the world, according to PBS.

Concerned individuals may contact PBS and DDE at the addresses below.

Ms. Pat Mitchell, President and CEO
Public Broadcasting System
1320 Braddock Place
Alexandria, VA 22314

Ron Devillier, President and CEO
Devillier, Donegan Enterprises
4401 Connecticut NW (#601)
Washington, DC 20008

Alberto Ibarguen
PBS Board Chairman & Publisher, Miami Herald
One Herald Plaza
Miami, FL 33132-1693

OSIA is the largest and oldest national organization for men and women of Italian descent in the United States. Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 745 chapters coast to coast.

OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, visit OSIA on the Web at