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At least for Prix Italia, public TV isn't dead.

The recently concluded Prix Italia did not rally "in defense of the world's public television," explained Prix's secretary general Piergiorgio Branzi, "but it emphasized reflections based on several considerations."

Sponsored by RAI, under the auspices of the European Broadcasting Union, Prix Italia, now in its 44th year, was held in Parma, near Milan, late last month. "In all parts of the world, public TV isn't dead. To the contrary, where it was able to find its role, public TV is stronger than ever," said Branzi. For RAI, this Prix Italia offered an international platform to reiterate its position that, in the words of its president Gianni Pasquarelli, "If there is one Italian state-owned company that should not be privatized, that is RAI." According to Pasquarelli, "Public television cannot be governed only by profits." Bruce Christensen, president of the Virginia-based PBS and Prix Italia's president, characterized his public TV network as "generalist, in the sense that it satisfies all kinds of audiences."

That public television is in the midst of a storm was evidenced by the fact that, according to official explanations, BBC's top executive John Birt had to cancel Prix Italia at the last minute to confront the U.K.'s latest public TV crisis.

The predominance of Silvio Berlusconi's networks was soundly criticized by RAI executives and some politicians, as well as Italy's telecommunications minister. "If Canale 5 and its associates take 60 per cent of total TV ad revenues, what's left for the others?" asked the minister, Maurizio Pagani.

The subject of ad revenues is also very dear to RAI executives, since it is possible (but considered unlikely) that RAI could lose viewers' license fees (they constitute most of its revenues).

In other news, Portugal's RTP and Frances TV5 announced at Prix Italia that since the end of September they began broadcasting in Africa, using the Russian satellite Stasionar 12. Additionally, Giampiero Gamalori reported that funding for its RAISAT's three-year experiment has run out, and that it is possible that the satellite service has to be shut down by this year's end.
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Publication:Video Age International
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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