Slow news day

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.


2 thoughts on “Slow news day

  1. simonlitton October 16, 2007 / 4:33 pm

    Comments from:

    Posted on Sep. 27th, 2007 02:21 pm (local)
    Same here, man. The line between news and celebrity gossip is so blurred that it has ceased to exist. The same presenters present both items, intermingled with each other.
    However, it’s not like any other country does it that much better. The BBC occasionally has stories on what Posh and Becks are up to. And there have been “tips for beating the heat” news items every year in every country I’ve ever lived in.
    The problem is that The News is a product being sold to the masses like any other.

    Posted on Sep. 27th, 2007 03:45 pm (local)
    Last night the BBC 6 o’clock news wasted at least three or four minutes telling us that Halo 3 was being released that day and that the nation’s teenagers were very excited about it…

    Posted on Sep. 28th, 2007 06:41 pm (local)
    Depending on where you live in Belgium (Brussels will do fine) you must watch the news from the major Dutch Belgian broadcaster VTM
    ( for their online news)
    In addition to the use of “miss Belgium” news-anchors, they will sell the news the way FOX-TV in the US loves to bring it: sensational, vulgar and aimed lower than the lowest common denominator.
    Really, the most basic, least sophisticated level of taste is all you can expect: opening the prime time newscast with dead children, accidents, vulgar trivia: you name it, they will air it.
    But the multitude of Belgian commercial stations beat the public broadcasters to all the blockbuster movies and top series, leaving one with little local viewing choice. If you care for a laugh, watch the lethargic VRT Public TV news: it feels like some state TV newscast from the former soviet block.
    Regarding the Italians on RAI Uno: at least most of them look attractive 😉
    I’m on 100 channel digital cable, but lately I prefer the interaction that only the Internet can provide.

    Posted on Sep. 28th, 2007 08:44 pm (local)
    As for Italian news anchors being attractive – this only applies to the female ones, obviously.
    And re:dead children – when I lived in Dublin I noticed an awful lot more kidnapped/killed kids stories. it’s like the Irish have some kind of morbid fascination for suffering children. Maybe it’s a catholic thing?

    Posted on Sep. 28th, 2007 09:41 pm (local)
    Love the Italian news anchors: it obviously all depends on who’s watching who 🙂 Like the French, they use their hands as much as their mouth: it’s almost a free body-language course.
    You’re a keen observer: Catholic countries do tend to present a distinguishable morbid fascination for suffering children. E.g. Holland (not Catholic) handles these news items much more serene. I can’t watch those stories anymore, fortunately some networks do treasure their commitment to respectful and decent news coverage.

    Posted on Sep. 28th, 2007 11:38 pm (local)
    Does putting your url on every image you post to Flickr really help anything?

    Posted on Sep. 29th, 2007 01:35 am (local)
    Yes, it actually does.
    On a previous blog, I noticed many of my shots ending up all over the internet: used and abused without any credit.
    Tagging is the only way to prevent this, or at least make it so hard no one will bother.
    And obviously, it turns some ‘drive by viewers’ into readers of my commercial-free blog.


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