One of the advantages of living in Brussels is that the cable TV suppliers provide you with a range of channels from all across Europe (and beyond). This can be especially revealing when it comes to news and current affairs, as you can see the same major stories covered (or not) in different ways by different national broadcasters.
One channel in particular sticks out in my mind, however, and that is Italy’s RAI Uno. Now I’m sure that there are other Italian channels which provide a decent, intelligent news service (I’ve heard good things about RAI Tre and La 7), but over here we only see RAI Uno, and it’s not good. What annoys me more than anything is not so much their coverage of the real news, as the way they include so many non-stories into the programme. Is it “news” that an ageing singer-songwriter has a new album out? Is it “news” that RAI Uno has just signed a big star to present their new variety show which, incidentally is showing right after this programme, so don’t touch that dial?
And then there are the public service announcement “news” items. For example, every summer the news feels the need to tell Italians that, hey! It’s summer! And you know what happens in summer? It gets hot! So, you know, maybe you should put on some suntan lotion, stay in the shade and drink lots of water. Then every autumn, the news has to notify us that, ooh! It’s getting a bit chilly, isn’t it? Maybe you should wrap up warm. And if you get a cold, you should probably go to your local pharmacist and maybe think about getting a ‘flu jab. Thanks, RAI! Whatever would we do without you?
Plus, at Easter and Christmas they feel the need to tell us that it’s Easter/Christmas again, and broadcast interminable vox pops wherein the Italian in the street admits that, yes, they spend too much on food and gifts, and yes, they’ve bought a chocolate egg for their child. Just like they did last year. And the year before that.
Add to this the fact that the actual news items are an unvarying mix of crimes of passion and political wranglings of byzantine complexity, and you could safely say that if you’ve seen one Italian news broadcast, you’ve seen them all.