Television as a project. The relation between public service broadcasting and Italian historical cultures (1954-1994)
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In his recent book, Jerome Bourdon has clearly showed that the ideal type of the “public service” is underlain by different conceptions, perspectives and visions. To understand how this concept, and more generally the “idea of television”, manifests itself in Italy, it is essential to start from the cultures that have a vision of “public service”, and of television itself, and that seek to turn this vision into something concrete. Looking at the first four decades of Italian television history, we can identify two driving forces, that also offer two ways to interpret and relate to the television medium. I refer to them as “control” and “project”. “Control” (control over television) is a continuous attitude that permeates the historical cultures in their approach to television. By “project”, I mean the development of a vision that is broader and richer than the simple concern for “control” but that shares with it the need to “channel” the explosive power of TV to reflect ideal or “ideological” needs, in line with the cultures that these projects have articulated. The essay looks at the period from the 1950s (with the advent of television) to the late 80s and early 90s, pointing out how the different historical cultures have tried both to exert influence and control and to develop specific projects on television.
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