Ethnic and national minorities and electronic media.
The RAI - radio televisione italiana - not only italian.
An example, a laboratory for multilingual broadcasting?
Presented by Wolfgang Mayr, RAI-journalist and member of the minority rights group society for threatend peoples, at the international conference "ethnic and national minorities and electronic media", Bialystock, Poland, 16-17 november 2000, organised by the National Broadcasting Council and Polish Television SA
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November 2000
upSomething is moving - in various announcements
The new RAI is to operate across regional boundaries but drawing on the wealth of regional issues. There are numerous common issues in the alpine area alone which the various RAI directorates should work together on. This logically leads on to transfrontier cooperation in a multilingual and multicultural context between the various public broadcasting companies- as described by the RAI regional programme director, Ennio Chiodi.

According to Chiodi, the linguistic minorities are to play an important part in this process, the Slovenian-speakers near Trieste towards Slovenia, the German-speaking South Tyroleans towards Austria and Germany and the francoprovençal Aostans towards France.

To date there have been few concrete results. This is a pity considering that the linguistic minorities mentioned by Chiodi have many years' experience in transfrontier dealings and that many projects which have already been approved like that between the Italian-Slovenian RAI in Trieste and the Italian-speaking Radio Capodistria in Slovenia, are starved of funding..

In the meantime Ennio Chiodi left the chief office - his successor Rizzo-Nervo say´s nothing in this case.

upThe historical background
The regional RAI stations in Bolzano/Bozen and Trieste started broadcasting in German and Slovenian soon after the Second World War, despite the fact that the RAI was still permeated by the ideas of Italian nationalism. The RAI in Trieste considered itself the mouthpiece of anti-communist propaganda and therefore broadcast in Slovenian. The RAI in Bolzano/Bozen, whose predecessor had been a fascist propaganda station, tried to rehabilitate itself with German-language programmes and italophile counter-propaganda. In those days the news of the German RAI journalists was vetted by an internal RAI censorship body. In the meantime this has completely changed, both for the Slovenian minority in and around Trieste and for the German minority in South Tyrol, where the local RAI stations are generally accepted to have become public broadcasting stations.

upThe reform of the RAI leads to a turning point and to legal safeguards.
Law number 104 (reform of the RAI, marking the change from a state-controlled to a public broadcasting company) which was passed in 1975 'legalised' the Slovenian, German and French (Aosta) language programmes. The other 9 linguistic minorities in Italy still do not have any programmes in their mother-tongue.

Article 19 of the reform law charged the RAI licensees with the task of providing German and Ladin language programmes in South Tyrol/Province of Bolzano-Bozen, French language programmes in Aosta and Slovenian language programmes in the Region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Furthermore, the RAI was charged with the task of improving the transmitter network of multi-lingual border areas to enable them to receive foreign stations. This clearly demonstrated the desire of the reformers to work towards transfrontier cooperation.

While in South Tyrol the reform resulted in almost complete emancipation, in Trieste this did not happen. There the RAI was also entrusted with the task of providing a local programme for the Italian majority. The reform law also stipulated that, based on corresponding agreements and conventions, the government had to meet the cost of the French and Slovenian language programmes.

upAnother media law as a further guarantee
A watchdog authority was set up by a new law (n.249- 31 July 1997) which also regulated the radio and TV system. The authority guarantees the programmes for those minorities recognised as such and that the measures taken to this effect are coordinated with the regions in question (Aosta, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and the autonomous provinces of South Tyrol and Trentino). The law confirmed the reception of French radio and TV programmes in Aosta, of Swiss, Austrian and German radio and TV programmes in South Tyrol and of Slovenian radio and TV in Trieste. The law also laid down the conventions whereby the minority programmes were to be funded.

upThe conventions
a.) The convention for the German and Ladin language programmes in the region of Trentino-South Tyrol envisages:

o 4716 hours of radio broadcasts and
o 550 hours of TV programmes in German

o 352 hours of radio broadcasts and
o 39 hours of TV programmes in Ladin

The latest updated convention has increased Ladin radio broadcasts by 117 hours and TV programmes by 13 hours and guarantees their reception in the Ladin-speaking Fassa valley in the autonomous province of Trento

The RAI receives over 28 billion Lire from the government to fund these programmes (an hour of radio broadcast in German costs 1,8 million Lire, an hour in Ladin costs 3,5 million Lire, an hour of TV in German costs over 31 million Lire, an hour in Ladin 39 million Lire).

Minority language broadcasting must not disturb in any way the reception of programmes in Italian.

b.) The convention for the French language programmes in Aosta envisages:

o 110 hours of radio broadcasts and
o 78 hours of TV programmes in French

For these programmes the RAI receives 3.7 billion Lire from the state (an hour of radio broadcast in French costs 6.7 million Lire, an hour of TV in French costs 39 million Lire). The convention gives the autonomous region of Aosta a say in the planning of the French-language programmes.

c.) The convention for the Slovenian language programmes also deals with Italian programmes (as mentioned above) in the autonomous region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. The convention envisages:

o 4517 hours of Slovenian and
o 1667 hours of Italian language radio broadcasts and
o 208 hours of TV programmes in Slovenian

For this the Italian government pays the RAI 6.6 billion Lire (258.000 Lire per hour of radio broadcast and 25 million Lire per hour of TV programme)

upThe RAI and minorities – contradictions and problems.
What is noticeable is the big variation in the cost per hour of radio broadcasts and TV programmes between the different minority languages.

Another point is that there is nobody responsible in the RAI head office in Rome for the existing RAI minority language programmes. The appointment of such a person would perhaps enhance the standing of RAI’s minority language programmes.

The minority language radio and TV production departments are largely just appendages

o the Ladin-language production department in RAI Bolzano/Bozen is subordinated to the chief producer of the local Italian production department.
o The Ladin production department is understaffed.
o The Ladin-speaking people of Cortina (Province of Belluno, Veneto Region) are supplied with RAI Ladin language programmes via a private TV broadcasting station.

Slovenian RAI TV was supposed to start in 1975 but only went on the air 20 years later. Slovenian RAI TV can only be watched by 60% of the Slovenian minority because RAI has failed to cover the whole Slovenian-speaking area with TV transmitters.

In Aosta there are still no RAI French TV news. RAI in Aosta has still not employed any French-speaking journalists. At present, the only French-speaking employee is funded by the French Ministery of Foreign Affairs.

upSeven minorities without RAI
The remaining minorities are not supplied by the RAI with programmes in their mother tongue. Only when the Government translate into action the new law on minorities (implementing constitutional law N. 6) will the other language minorities get limited RAI programmes in their own language.

upMinorities – transfrontier, European?
The funding of the French speaking RAI Aosta employee by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a small first step of transfrontier cooperation. The Union Valdotaine insists on frenchification of RAI-Aosta, in close agreement with France.
The RAI German language station in Bolzano/Bozen, “Sender Bozen”, has worked for years with the regional ORF station in Innsbruck (Austria).
There have been film co-productions. The Rundfunkanstalt Südtirol (RAS), a broadcasting support sevice set up by the province of Bolzano/Bozen by provincial law in 1975 (it transmits TV programmes from German-speaking countries using its own transmitters) has laid the broadcasting cable between RAI in Bolzano/Bozen and the regional ORF station in Innsbruck. The ORF office in Bolzano/Bozen uses this to transfer radio and TV reports to Innsbruck and RAI in the same way receives reports from Innsbruck. So the technology already exists to do more, e.g. joint radio and TV programmes. This has not happened yet. Why? The reasion can only be speculated.

The first real attempt at transfrontier TV cooperation will come in this year between Trieste and Capodistria. The Sovenian RAI in Trieste and the public broadcasting station of Italian language group in Slovenia (Radio Capodistria) want to produce a 1 ½ hour TV news programme in Slovenian and Italian. Initially, Radio Capodistria (with a daily 7-hour TV programme output) will broadcast the Slovenian RAI-TV news and the Slovenian RAI (weekly output of 4 hours of TV programme) will broadcast the Italian TV-news of Radio Capodistria.

However, both criticise the fact that Italy and Slovenia are not prepared to provide new broadcasting frequencies, funds and personnel.

The Slovenian and Italian language groups agreed on the project already in 1996, the Slovenian parliament has approved the bilingual TV project, as have the foreign ministeries of both countries. The CGIL trade union of region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia has warned the right-wing parties not to block the project.

upThe future
The RAI production committees of the autonomous regions (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Trentino-South Tyrol, Aosta, Sardinia and Sicily) called on the RAI in 1997 to promote transfrontier projects. The RAI journalists’ trade union has a representative of the language minorities in its executive committee. This representative, together with the NGOs Ciemen and GfbV, has called for mother-toungue broadcasts by the RAI for all 13 linguistic minorities in Italy, and for multilingual transforntier projects. In addition, they all call for a national RAI director of broadcasting for minorities.

At a meeting in Bolzano/Bozen of the RAI journalists’ trade union and of the Confemili (Italian Commitee of the European Bureau for lesser used languages) the RAI was again called on to provide the linguistic minorities with mother-tongue programmes. The RAI was furthermore called on to work out an overall project for a RAI of the minorities.

The gone director of the regional RAI networks has declared himself in favour of multilingual transfrontier projects. He has described the existing minority programmes as a laboratory for a multilingual RAI. These are important signals for a new role of the minorities within the RAI system, also building on the minorities as breges for transfrontier cooperation.

Considering past experience, however, a certain amount of scepticism is called for.

Society for threatend peoples, e-mail: , web:
and:, web:

Rai-Sender Bozen, e-mail:

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