Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has stormed off a TV show
after the interviewer asked awkward questions ahead of the April election.
The media magnate refused to answer when state TV journalist Lucia Annunziata
asked about his business affairs and the Iraq conflict.
"You can't tell me what to do," he said as the conversation descended
into bickering and he accused her of bias.
"This is my show, I'll decide the questions," Ms Annunziata retorted.
link to video-
watch the incident
She told him he was "not used to taking journalists' questions".
The prime minister faces his first TV debate with opposition leader Romano
Prodi on Tuesday as the race hots up for the 9-10 April election and his coalition
lags behind in opinion polls by several points.
Mr Berlusconi effectively owns three private TV stations in Italy while
his supporters run two of the three Rai, or state, TV channels.
Only Rai Tre, the least watched of the three, is critical of the prime
minister and he was being interviewed on its In A Half-hour programme.
After just 20 minutes, he was gathering up his papers and telling Ms Annunziata
her programme was "a war machine set against the prime minister".
The interviewer had asked him why he was only known abroad for his support
for US President George W Bush in Iraq, as well as possible conflicts of commercial
and political interest.
Accusing her of "prejudices" and being "on the left", he
said: "You should be a little bit ashamed."
As he left the studio, his microphone was still attached and he could be heard
shouting: "And they say I'm the one who controls Rai!"
Rai Tre showed the interview uncut on Sunday afternoon.
Correspondents note that it is rare for Italian interviewers to take a confrontational
approach with politicians.
While Mr Berlusconi dominated TV screens earlier in the year, strict campaigning
laws have since taken effect, forcing the media to give equal space to Italy's
many political parties and thereby reducing his exposure.