Over the last few months in Italy there has been an inordinately long battle for the chairmanship of a commission which is supposed to oversee the operation of Italy’s RAI state TV channels.
That there was such a battle reveals just how important it is for Italy’s politicians to control television channels here.
The battle began when Italy’s opposition parties proposed existing commission member, one Leoluca Orlando and a member of Antonio Di Pietro’s Italian Values party, for the chairmanship of the RAI commission. The prospect of having an ally of one of Berlusconi’s most outspoken critics at the helm must have been too much to bear for Italy’s trash TV magnate cum prime minister.
Berlusconi Was Terrified
Such was the terror of Berlusco and his cronies at the prospect of one of Di Pietro’s Italian Values party members landing the top job at the RAI watchdog that they fought tooth and nail to keep Leoluca Orlando out.
The battle raged for a good few months and only very recently has a winner emerged. The winner is one Riccardo Villari, an Italian senator, doctor, university lecturer and a member of the main opposition party in Italy led by Walter Veltroni, the PD or Democratic Party. Not a Berluco man, well not directly anyway.
A little worryingly, Silvio B announced that he was happy with the choice of Riccardo Villari for the top seat. However others have expressed concern as to the outcome of this silent but bitter power struggle, and Leoluca Orlando, along with another Italian Values Party member of the RAI commission, Pancho Pardi, resigned their seats. These gentlemen whilst leaving the door mumbled words to the effect that Berlusconi had now attained total control of Italian TV, both public and private.
What Does this Mean for Italian TV?
It is now probable that Berlusconi will be able to exert enough influence to ensure that Italy’s viewers will hear versions of events which lean strongly towards supporting Berlusco’s points of view. Read: Censorship, mixed with healthy doses of propaganda.
The traditionally left wing RAI 3 channel, which is more than happy to point out the error of the Berlusconi government’s ways, will most likely have its wings well and truly clipped. Programs such as the interesting investigative documentary series Report may well disappear or be substantially watered down.
As for the other public TV channels, political satire will probably be virtually extinguished too, and anything adjudged to be critical of the current government will not be aired. Berlusconi has indicated his dislike of satire and of ‘commie’ RAI 3.
Not just Berlusconi but also many other old school Italian politicians detest public criticism, particularly when it emanates from that most public of mediums: television.
Television is the only medium capable of reaching the majority of Italians, seeing as not many read Italy’s dense newspapers. The only other medium capable of achieving a similar level of penetration to television is the Internet, which, unsurprisingly, Italy’s politicians are trying to bring to heel too. Read the Italy’s Politicians Try to Ban Blogs, again post to learn more about this. Although I should point out that, for the moment, the proposed law has been dropped in the face of strong opposition. The key phrase is ‘for the moment’, for a fresh attempt is sure to be made. Still the denizens of Italy’s Internet are keeping an eye on what Italy’s sensitive but cunning politicians are cooking up.
There are, however, other ways to ensure that Internet does not become a valid alternative to TV in Italy, and one such way is to limit the growth of Internet infrastructure and keep connection prices good and high.
Mind Numbing Quiz Shows
For the immediate future, Italians can expect their brains to continue to be softened up by mind numbing quiz shows, followed by subtle propaganda masquerading as news, which in turn, and to keep Italian brains well and truly addled, will be supplemented by further low brow programs such as Isola dei Famosi and Big Brother. Oh, and don’t forget all those police shows which keep reminding Italians that there is a law and order problem in Italy.
Tune in to this blog for more plot summaries on that long running soap otherwise known as Italy.
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