EUI workshop on ‘The Italian media system’

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final programme – EUI – the italian media system?he Department of Law of the European University Institute (EUI) organised a workshop on the Italian media system as part of the MEDIADEM project which took place in Florence on March 25, 2011. Two were the main topics debated: the evolution of the journalistic profession in the new media environment, covered during the morning session, and the audiovisual media policy in Italy, discussed in the afternoon.

The workshop started with an introduction to the MEDIADEM project’s aim, objectives and progress up to date by Prof. Fabrizio Cafaggi and Dr Elda Brogi. The morning session continued with a presentation by Mr Roberto Natale, President of the Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana (FNSI). Mr Natale described the challenges that the new media have brought to the journalistic profession, highlighting that in such an overloaded media context, professional journalism offers information and news of higher quality. The role of the professional journalist, he explained, was made clear in the context of the dispute between ‘The Guardian’ and Julian Assange on the publication of the whole Wikileaks archive. The Guardian’s decision to publish selected information and not the entire archive is closely linked to the definition of journalists’ tasks in the new media environment, that is ‘selecting’ what is relevant for publication. The FNSI, he then noted, is in favour of the preservation of the Ordine dei Giornalisti (the public associative body of the profession in Italy), as the latter can guarantee respect for the deontological codes. Nevertheless, Mr Natale argued, the Ordine should be reformed, as well as the access to the profession, in order to have more qualified journalists. Journalists should be required to have a specific professional education.

Mr Giuseppe Rea, member of the Council of the Ordine dei Giornalisti and coordinator of the group Libertà di Stampa – Diritto all’Informazione (LSDI), subsequently took the floor. He presented the draft legislation of the Italian Parliament on the reform of the Ordine and focused on aspects relating to online journalism, citizen journalism and data journalism. The Italian editorial industry, he argued, has not yet realised the potential of the new media and has not yet developed strategies for the use of the new communication tools. Prof. Gennaro Carotenuto, who teaches History of Journalism at the University of Macerata, underlined how the Wikileaks affair is changing the role of journalists. Partially disagreeing with Roberto Natale, he affirmed that journalists nowadays are not asked to choose information, but rather to make it available as found and received without making any selection. Mr Piero Macrì, Member of the European Journalism Observatory, stressed that publishers should invest in the online information market. Since they recognise the important value of online information in the supply chain of the editorial industry, they should better reward online journalists.

The afternoon session started with the introductory remarks of Prof. Cafaggi who stressed MEDIADEM’s focus on new media regulation, and Dr Elda Brogi who highlighted the most important issues concerning the Italian regulatory regime. These include the current debate on media ownership and on political pluralism, the role of the National Regulatory Authority and the effective implementation of the European Audiovisual Media Services Directive (Directive 2007/65/EC) among others. Prof. Roberto Zaccaria, member of the Camera dei Deputati, then critically reviewed the governance of the Italian audiovisual sector, focusing on the tasks of the Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni. The session continued with Prof. Roberto Mastroianni (Professor of European Law at the University of Naples) who discussed the interpretation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to media pluralism, and Mr Ottavio Grandinetti (attorney) who talked about the attempts of Sky Italia to enter the digital terrestrial television market in Italy. Ms Camilla Sebastiani of the Policy Study Department of the Authority of Communications presented the role of the Authority in safeguarding media pluralism. The Head of Unit of the Policy Studies Office of the Autorità Garante per la Concorrenza ed il Mercato (the Italian Authority on Market and Trade), Ms Valeria Amendola, subsequently referred to the case Association of the Italian Newspaper Industries (FIEG) v Google concerning the alleged abuse of the latter’s dominant position in the online market.

The workshop ended with a discussion on the effectiveness of competition in the Italian audiovisual market and the need for the national communication authority to adopt a more incisive role in the implementation of the EU principles of competition and non discrimination in the regulation of the audiovisual market.

The agenda of the workshop is available here.

For more information on the workshop, you may contact Elda Brogi.