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The European Commission - Representation in Italy

EU integration in the cross-media Public Service perspective

Preparatory Workshop
promoted by Infocivica and Gruppo di Torino
for the European Conference on



2010 - 62nd edition

Sala di Rappresentanza 
RAI Auditorium Arturo Toscanini - TORINO Piazza Rossaro 1
Tuesday 21st September 2010 - 09:00-14.30


Infocivica’s proposal to the Turin Workgroup

The technological changes that precede and accompany the profound changes of the modern society in which we live makes it particularly urgent to engage in a collective European reflection, as regards the tasks and the organization of the media in the service of the public. It is basically necessary to bring out and analyze the current trends and to suggest the guidelines and structures we consider adequate to the new situation, at a national and local level, in Europe and even globally.

The meeting organized in Turin by Infocivica in the context of Prix Italia in September 2009 on the theme of building a public communications service with a European dimension, saw the participation of seven of the leading European experts in the field from various European universities (the so-called “Turin Workgroup”) and it obtained a great deal of consensus among those present. Following the interest generated and the quality of the interventions, Infocivica proposed to the speakers and rapporteurs present at the seminar that they become directly involved in preparing a Green Paper on Public_service_media_in the society of information and knowledge.

Using the contribution of the scholars gathered in the Turin Workgroup, Infocivica is promoting a process of research and discussion that, following four preparatory_seminars and an International_conference in 2011 in the context of the_fifty_year_anniversary_of_the_public_broadcasting_service_in_Italy, will tackle the transformations currently underway and will conclude in 2012 with a European Conference_to_present_the_Green_Paper, again in Turin, in collaboration with the Prix Italia.

Two bodies - Infocivica and a network of experts from European universities constituting the Turin Workgroup - will be the promoters of the Conference. They will also make the most of a close collaboration with Comitato Italia 150 (the Committee for Italy’s 150 year anniversary), the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

The main objective of the European Conference is to define a new overview of the mission, offer, financing and rules of public service media in Europe.

At a European level we intend to define the mission, nature and role of public service media in the society of information and knowledge, clarifying what kind of state aid is legitimate in order to finance the activities of public service media in the society of information and overcoming the aspects of ambiguity within the Protocol annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam.

On the basis of this new European framework, at an Italian level we intend to develop firm guidelines and clear rules of financing and governance in anticipation of the renewal of the RAI State Convention, which is due to expire on December 31, 2015.

The intention of the promoters of the Green Paper on public service media in the society of information and knowledge is to emphasize both the non-substitutable nature of public services in the society of information and the need to redefine their mission within a document with a constitutional value, preceded by a radical transformation of the guaranteed service and safeguarded standards, the organizational structure, the modalities of funding and the institutional contacts of service media.

As emerged in the first seminar of Infocivica in September 2009 dedicated to examining the question: “Is building a European public television possible after the Lisbon Treaty? Problems and prospects”, it is useful to clarify that emphasizing the indispensability of the role and the mission of institutions in the service of the public does not necessarily mean the defence or safeguarding of the existing institutions and the exclusivity or unity of their organization, or the preservation of interest groups that represent them or have protected them over time.

On the contrary, radically redefining their mission and remit, their positioning within the market of media contents, their organizational structure, as well as their funding and governance means calling into question any income arising from a dominant role or position in technological areas, or contexts of supply and demand that do not comply with or adhere to the obligations deriving from their mission as a public service.

In compliance with the rules and principles of competition within the European Union, the final summarizing document, which could be presented at the European Conference in November 2012, aims to overcome the compromise adopted in 1997 during the signing of the Protocol annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam, which left it up to the individual nation states to determine what public service programmes should be funded by the licence fee as well as in what way and to what extent they could be distinguished from those financed by market resources.

The awareness is becoming more widespread that within the programming schedules of the public service it is undesirable to have activities aimed at commercial exploitation, which should instead be conducted within a new “public service market”, which is carefully defined and circumscribed. Nor is a private use of the public service to be permitted. At the same time it is no longer tolerable to draw on public resources for profit-oriented activities. These should be conducted solely by profit-oriented companies and as such should be funded with resources collected within the market alone.

As pointed out by Infocivica in Turin, the new cross-media scenario requires us to go beyond the compromise at the basis of the Protocol on radio and television broadcasting services annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam. The construction of this agreement should be thoroughly reviewed with the awareness that it would be totally inadequate to extend the traditional remits carried out by national broadcasters inside the framework that has been created in recent years due to trends towards cross-media convergence, globalization and requests for heightened safeguarding within local areas. The new public service of communications is not called upon to do “anything and everything” (as expressed in Rai’s slogan “di tutto e di più”) but to do it “better and in a more precise and restricted way”.

The first preparatory seminar at the conference will be devoted to preparing the first report of the Green Paper dedicated to the analysis of the new demand and necessity for public services and the definition of the mission of public service media within a multi-platform environment. The Turin Workgroup will carry out a thorough sociological analysis to identify the needs and determine the priority targets towards which a public service must be addressed in order to maintain social cohesion also in the new digital world, and it will produce a detailed sociological report on the demand for public services in contemporary society.

A preliminary report prepared by the rapporteur professor Philip Schlesinger and the co-rapporteur professor Michele Sorice will be discussed by the Turin Workgroup on Tuesday 21 September 2010 during an initial study workshop entitled: Social change and public service demand and mission in the society of information and knowledge.

On the basis of the identification of the needs of the public service in our complex societies, the seminar will conduct an analysis of the tasks currently assigned to linear public broadcasting services in the major European countries and it will aim to define what the new mission of a cross-media public service could be, in which linear and non linear services co-exist with traditional media and on-line participatory media.

Professor Philip Schlesinger will present the first preliminary report in preparation for the Conference in Turin in 2011 by expressing some general hypotheses, starting from the situation in the UK and a preliminary assessment of the experience of the devolution of public service media in Scotland. He will also assess the extent to which the new media, including non-linear media in the experimental phase, are able to create new forms of belonging and identity and the creation of a “sensus communis”, or the basis of a common identity (according to Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico’s designation of the term). Professor Schlesinger will then historically examine the British case, which has already been presented in Italy by an ex-student of his, professor Matthew Hibberd, in his publication: The great Journey of the BBC, published in Italy by the Zone collection of the RAI Ufficio Studi (Media Studies Department).

At a seminar in Rome’s Auditorium, in April 2009, with the participation of the Rai Board members Angelo Maria Petroni and Carlo Rognoni, professor Hibberd made a historical appraisal of the British model and the method of wide ranging consultation at all levels adopted in the UK every ten-years, in order to renew the Royal Charter which gives the BBC the pioneering function of breaking new ground for public service media, involving “digitalizing” British citizens themselves, and not only their TV sets, and committing the government to establishing general strategic guidelines and objectives, in addition to the allocation of public funding to the BBC after verifying its role in creating contents of public value and for the benefit of the whole community.

Professor Schlesinger will examine in depth the topics discussed in the Green Paper and in particular the basic objectives of the current Royal Charter, which is valid from 2007 until 2016. These objectives are as follows:

I. Sustaining citizenship and civil society (INFORMATION)

II. Promoting education and learning (EDUCATION)

III. Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence (CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT)

IV. Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities (UNITING THE NATION AND COMMUNITIES)

V. Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK (GLOBAL ROLE)

VI. Building digital Britain (TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS)

In conclusion he will present the new issues that are currently being examined in the initial phase of the renewal of the remit for public service media in the UK, to be defined by the future Royal Charter valid for the decade 2016-2025.

Enrique Bustamante, of the Complutense University of Madrid, will initiate the examination of the remits currently assigned to public service media in the principal European countries, starting with the regulatory situation in Spain where a state public service coexists with the public television networks of the Regional Autonomous Communities and with various municipal public broadcasters. Enrique Bustamante has written an essay on the history of Spanish national public broadcasting services for RAI’s Zone series and he was an expert advisor nominated by the Zapatero government with an influential role in originating the transformation of RTVE from a state-controlled institution into Corporacion RTVE, decided in September 2006 and effective from February 2007.

This intervention will be followed by that of Pierre Musso, who will examine the tasks assigned by the Cahier de charges to France Télévisions. Starting from the recent reform established by the President of the French Republic Sarkozy, professor Musso will trace the historical development of the public broadcasting service, starting with the dividing up of ORTF in 1974 and moving on to issues such as the setting up of the “news information proximity services” by France 3 in the early nineties, the new tasks assigned to the educational network France 5, the Franco-German cultural network Arte, the two parliamentary channels LCP and Public Sénat, and the international news and information channel France 24.

The regulatory situation in the Mediterranean area will be completed with an examination by professor Francisco Rui Cadima of the Portuguese state of affairs.

The analysis of the mission of public service media in Continental and Eastern Europe will begin with a report by professor Roberto Suarez dedicated to the evolution of the remit in Germany where the regulatory situation of public service media is divided between the functions and responsibilities of the Länder and those of the federal government, namely between the regional and the national public services.

This will be followed by the contribution of professor Beata Klimkiewicz, dedicated to the remits assigned to public service media in Poland. Then there will be the contribution of Peter Dahlgren concerning the Swedish model, and more generally the Scandinavian experience of the promotion of digital citizenship. Finally there will be the contribution of professor Giuseppe Richeri of the University of Lugano, dedicated to the tasks assigned to public service media in the Swiss Confederation, subdivided into its various different linguistic communities.

Each rapporteur will be called upon to answer the following questions:

Faced with the current fragmentation not only of society as a whole but also of the media content proposals and consequently of the media consumption of European citizens, to what extent can public service media create new forms of social cohesion and realize a new public space at the local, regional, national and European levels?

What role do technological innovation, research, experimentation and testing of advanced cross-media services on broadband networks have in this new phase?

What are the best policies for new media literacy programmes for all citizens and for ensuring their access to the services of the information society?

How can we transform the concept of the public sphere in the context of the transition from traditional linear broadcasting media to the new on-line media, moving away from the centrality of the broadcast to that of the broadband system?

In his final report entitled: Social_complexity_and_cohesion._The_mission_of public_service_media_in_the_era_of_social_networks, professor Michele Sorice will try to answer the following question: Faced with the current fragmentation not only of society as a whole but also of the media content proposals and consequently of the demand for media consumption of European citizens, to what extent can technological innovation, research and testing of advanced cross-media services on broadband networks as well as policies for ensuring access to new media literacy programmes and the services of the information society create new forms of social cohesion and realize a new public space at the local, regional, national and European levels?

Professor Sorice, starting from the Italian regulatory situation, which was addressed at a conference held in spring 2010 at the Istituto Luigi Sturzo in Rome, will illustrate the function of providing social cohesion carried out by the Italian public broadcasting service in the years of the “Miracolo Economico” (economic boom). He will discuss the educational role exercised by Rai in the fifties and sixties and the logic of limited and controlled access by large segments of Italian society to information and contents. He will also try to understand how - in the current transition from the radio-television linear broadcasting system to the cross-media system, with programming in a media content market characterized by multiple tools, platforms and offers, within a context of increasingly fragmented identities - public service media can continue to be an engine for integration and absorption into the dominant flows of media dissemination, which are widely shared in societies like that of Italy and Europe in this first decade of the millennium; societies which have been deprived of the traditional aggregative bonds of society.

How can we represent and give a voice to the community in its various aspects, restoring a “sensus communis”, or the roots of a common identity, after the crisis of the traditional means and agencies of socialization?

What does the challenge of the Web through the Next Generation Networks (NGNs) imply in terms of access, interaction, and participation of citizens?

To what extent can the broadband Web re-launch democracy and reconstruct shared forms of belonging and identity by means of participatory media?

In this new scenario what organizational and relational model with citizens can we imagine for public services in future decades: top-down, bottom-up or the coexistence of the two?

We remain convinced that public service media can once more assume an important role with specific and decisive characteristics at this stage of hybrid cohabitation between linear media and the new participatory media. Even in this situation we are confident that if they succeed in adapting their remits and missions to the changing needs of today's society, they will play an essential role in ensuring a well-disciplined and simple transition from the present electronic Babel to a new, richly varied and orderly cross-media proposal. They will be able to contribute decisively to the transition from the present disjointed and fragmented society, encouraging the emergence of an increasingly open and intricately interconnected society, in which each individual and personality will be able to find shared values, forming new groups and communicating in new ways and forms.

The realization of public service media today involves a certain cost for our democracies. But our democratic societies would certainly become poorer and less varied without them.

(by Bruno Somalvico, General Secretary of Infocivica)