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Friday, April 5, 2013

Comparing Italian TV to ‘The Truman Show,’ Italian Blogger Calls for Sweeping Reform

Beppe Grillo, the Italian populist who started the insurgent Five Star Movement online after he was banned from state television channels for his political comedy, plans to press for sweeping reform of Italy’s public broadcaster RAI through new legislation.

In a post on his popular blog, supplemented by a Twitter debate and an online survey with input from more than 90,000 readers, Mr. Grillo argued that the country remained in the grip of politicians from traditional political parties mainly because the state broadcaster is run by a gerontocracy that fails to accurately report widespread discontent and works “to maintain privileges, castes, and social parasites across the board.”

“A lot of people ask me why the parties that have reduced Italy to the status of co-star and have delivered the forthcoming generations into poverty and emigration, still got the majority of votes in the last elections,” he wrote.

The answer is that a part of the Italian population is living in a gigantic ‘Truman show,’ and responsibility for this is entirely due to Italian journalists, with the usual few exceptions and in a country like ours, these exceptions deserve every possible praise. What’s happening is an outright war against reality, a war of mystification, of illusions, in which lies are being spat out by the news suppliers every day. This is regime-supplied information that’s totalitarian.

Citing a remarkable statistic reported last year by the Italian news agency, AGI â€" brought to his attention by the young blogger Luca Rinaldi â€" Mr. Grillo also noted that “RAI has 13,000 employees, and of these, fewer than 50 are people under 30: just 0.37 percent.”

The leader of the Five Star Movement added that, “This plague that touches and pollutes those who have no other sources of information is paid for by the victims themselves, as the government provides (direct and indirect) contributions to the newspapers and through the license fee and the taxes for the RAI (TV and radio) for a disgraceful public service.” As Alberto Nardelli, the co-founder of the global politics Web site Electionista explained in a blog post, in addition to three state television channels, “Most Italian papers are publicly subsidized in one way or another, and the profession (publishers and journalists) is closed.”

Given all this, Mr. Grillo wrote:

RAI has to be reorganized and transformed into a public service following the model of the BBC without any connection to the parties, without advertising, producing quality content that has mainly been produced in-house and not like now, when it’s entrusted to external companies with the building up of one set of costs on top of another.

In Parliament, the M5S, in accordance with its program, will propose the establishment of a single RAI channel, without any connection to the parties and without advertising. It proposes the sale of the other channels. Freedom of information is fundamental for the future of the country and as a way of getting out of “The Matrix.”