Part 2 - RESHAPING THE IDENTITY OF PUBLIC SERVICE MEDIA IN EUROPE
The Infocivica's proposal to the Turin Workgroup -Gruppo Europeo di Torino
Real-time summary: 12.30
The second part of the morning began with the intervention of Gerardo Mombelli , the President of Infocivica , who pointed out that the European Group of Turin had been set up the previous evening, as formalized in the promulgation of a letter to Barroso, the President of the European Commission. On a personal level Mombelli wanted to emphasize that the political reality of our countries and that of the European Union is more complex than it is usually understood to be. Some of the problems addressed in the discussions today relate to intergovernmental cooperation. Moreover, the challenge we now face consists in trying to overcome the clear-cut alternative between on the one hand conceiving a series of exchanges without tangible plans or proposals, or on the other hand a package of perfectly structured and concrete proposals. The pathway that Infocivica proposes is a kind of Third Way. As such it is certainly more complex and it comprises an effort to describe the whole situation of all the media systems in our countries, in addition to the elaboration of general political considerations concerning the role of the public service, with the indication of possible guidelines at a European level.
Preliminary summary of Gerardo Mombelli's intervention
Manlio Cammarata, the executive director of InterLex and a member of Infocivica, examined the European debates and the current regulatory situation. He began by pointing out how the sector of the media that we know as "public service broadcasting” is changing and that it no longer comprises only radio and television but also Internet and the first experiments of innovative services. It is no coincidence that we no longer talk of "television", but of the "cross-media service". Nonetheless talking about the cross media or television public service in Europe is particularly difficult, first of all due to the great differences between the approach of the various European States, and secondly due to the insufficient regulatory interventions by the European Community institutions. As we trace the evolution of European laws from the first timid steps with the "Television without Frontiers" Council Directive in 1989 until the Amsterdam protocol that focused on the thorny issues of funding for public service broadcasters, the Directive 65/2007 on “audiovisual media services” stands out. Within a completely changed telecommunications context this regulation introduced a new vision of "audiovisual media services", as shown by the substitution of the word "television" in the title and the text of the directive. But when one actually reads the text of this legislation, the logic it expresses is still that of television and added to this is the difficulty of distinguishing between linear and non-linear services, which unfortunately even today still tend to be seen as overlapping.
Ever since the post-war period Italy has experienced a sort of ballet of sporadic Government control over television. In recent years, for example, the Gasparri Law of 2004 provided for the privatization (never actually begun) of RAI and for the control of the public service to revert to the government during the period of transition . The implementation of the European Directive, with the formal transition from “television” to “audiovisual media services” provided an opportunity to increase control over Internet, by applying similar rules to those of traditional television to television services on the net , with the addition of suffocating obligations for many operators who cannot afford to comply with such rules , thereby definitively moving our country far from a European vision of public services.
Preliminary summary of Manlio Cammarata's intervention
At this point Bruno Somalvico intervened, by drawing attention to the unseen work of those who are putting the contents of the seminar and discussions onto the Net as they gradually develop during this conference, and he pointed out that this is a way to ensure that the seminar can be more widely shared.
He then went straight into the details of his intervention , by reminding us of the decline of mainstream (or generalist) television , the beginning of the fragmentation of television audiences and the growing role of TV viewers in the construction of their media diets. The components of the system are changing, with the questioning of traditional models and the entry of new operators into the market. New hybrid platforms are emerging designed to convey radio and television from circular broadcasting to the new broadband networks. We are now going through a new phase in which the future of radio and television is linked to the world of the Net and the fragmentation of audiences along with the proliferation of the offer are accelerating the end of the centrality of mainstream television and mass communications , with a need for active participation by users and, above all, new forms of social cohesion and the creation of a “sensus communis”, or a new shared sense of identity.
In this context Somalvico believes that public services can a ttain an important if not decisive role at this stage of hybrid cohabitation between linear media and new participatory media , contributing decisively towards passing beyond the present atomized and fragmented society.
That is why the RAI of the Third Millennium – on the eve of the expiry of its Convention with the Italian State in 2015 – must rediscover the reforming spirit of the series of congresses held (stagione dei congressi) in the early seventies. The 150 year anniversary of the unification of Italy could certainly be a d ecisive moment to catalyze discussion on these themes. Understanding the new scenario of cross-media communication means giving back to politics and public institutions a sceptre of responsibility in the fundamental choices for favouring equal conditions for all citizens in the new society of information and knowledge, as regards access to information in addition to their possibility to express themselves freely and share information and messages without restrictions or constraints, but within the limits and rules of coexistence within a modern civil society.
Preliminary summary of Bruno Somalvico's intervention
Continuation of the real-time summary