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RAI's Manca in N.Y. talks turkey with plenty of trimmings.

RAI's Manca in N.Y. Talks Turkey With Plenty of Trimmings

Enrico Manca, RAI's top executive, came to New York last month to deliver a message to the international television industry. A pure politician, Manca's message was hidden within a political speech directed at his home constituency and at the international political body of the United Nations.

In its essence, Manca's message was clear: The already developed countries must help the developing countries to establish a better flow of information. For this purpose, Manca has undertaken a study which will soon be presented to the U.N. for review. It was pointed out that a similar proposal was advanced, then dropped by UNESCO.

What seemed unusual was the venue and the environment in which such a message was delivered: A conference at New York University, the second for Manca.

Invited to present their views were former news anchorman Walter Cronkite, Neal Postman, professor of media ecology at NYU; Giovanni Sartori, professor of political sciences at Columbia University; and Joseph La Palombaro, professor of political sciences at Yale University. Moderator was journalist and Gianni Agnelli's media advisor Furio Colombo.

Once the obligatory political rhetoric was out of the way, (Italians believe that is more noble to adorn a business proposal with a political dressing), Manca made some significant statements. "Manca is a politician, therefore it is normal that he would find a link between politics and information," warned Furio Colombo.

Earlier in the month, Manca met in Tokyo with NHK's chairman Keiji Shima, who proposed a global news network in competition with Ted Turner's CNN.

According to Manca, RAI is interested in the NHK proposal and discussions will continue in Geneva. Manca, whose Italian title is RAI president - which corresponds to the American chairman - (Gianni Pasquarelli's official title is RAI director general, the equivalent of president), also stated that RAI will explore the "link between RAI's mass media role and the industrial needs." In addition, under the umbrella "Project 2000," Manca wants the RAI network to reach the entire world.

After these plans were stated, the discussion became centered around one topic: news.

Manca set the tone by stating, "We are entering into new relations," and television leaves the process less manageable. "We're not sure if this is the age of the Atlantic or the Pacific," he said. According to Joseph La Palombaro, also a former diplomat, "Television may be part of the problem that we try to solve." To Neal Postman, the problem is too much information which "is just as dangerous as too little information."

On the other hand, according to Giovanni Sartori, we get lots of news "but very little information." But, then, to Postman, "weather is the only information we can really use."

Postman, who teaches media ecology or "how media creates the environment," said that what happens to television and democracy depends on the level of literacy and that the structure of the U.S. TV system is making the public stupid. Concurred Sartori, "Will homo sapiens become homo vidiens?"

Walter Cronkite took the defensive: "We have a magnificent communications system addressing people that cannot understand the information." What worried Cronkite though, is the frequent use of "sound bites" on American newscasts. "Soundbites have no verbs," complained Cronkite, who also reported that the average U.S. TV news story is 90 seconds long. "Our problem is the opposite," interjected Manca. "In Italy we have a problem with 90-minute news stories," he said in reference to RAI's long and often incomprehensible domestic political reports. Manca also internationalized the U.S. trend toward more local news. "In Italy local news is now more appreciated," he said.

After the conference, Manca and some of the 150 conference participants drove North, to Remi Restaurant for a buffet dinner. Earlier in the day, he presided over the New York-based RAI Corp. annual budget approval (which includes coproduction money). Not explained was the indefinite postponement of the planned opening ceremony of RAI/SACIS' new cinema in New York.

On a final note, Manca said that although relations with competitor Silvio Berlusconi are not yet "harmonious," they are much better than in the past.

PHOTO : Enrico Manca making a point.

PHOTO : SRO at NYU. L. to r.: Neal Postman, Giovanni Sartori, Walter Cronkite, Joseph La Palombara, Furio Colombo.

PHOTO : RAI Corp. President Renato Pachetti with Walter Cronkite and Furio Colombo (r.)

PHOTO : RAI Corp. VP Umberto Bonetti and SACIS' Guido Corso (l.)
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Enrico Manca
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Words:739
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