matteo pasquinelli on Wed, 16 Apr 2003 23:09:36 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Tactical Television in Italy

Dear nextimers, 

an instant-report from Italy, where a wave of tactical televisions is rising
connected to no-war mobs and new global movement. After video activism and net
activism we can consider this a new kind of tv activism for the number of
people, energies, ideas involved. 

Telestreet ( is a spontaneous network of very-tactical
street tvs (like french proximity tvs) that broadcast lo-fi videos only few
hours a week troughout a 1000euro 400meters-range equipment. Telestreet was
born to protest against Mister B* media monopoly: according to Italian law they
are pirate and illegal. Low-budget and self-funded.

No War TV ( is a satellite channel for an alternative
coverage during the Iraq war (in these day it stopped but next should start
again with another name - interesting problem). It gathers media activists from
a wide political spectrum: Indymedia, Social Forums, "Girotondi", Mediawatch
groups (like and mainstream media practioners too. 

Global TV ( is the satellite channel from "Disobbedienti"
and the Communist Youth. They claim to be a militant partisan tv and not an
indipendent tv: a kind of I-say-what-I-think rap. They started in Florence
during but out of the European Social Forum. 

Urban TV ( is a project (where I am involved after
Telestreet) for an open access television in Bologna and in other Italian
cities, filling the level between the street and the satellite. If you like an
attempt to bring the here-unknown Open Channel format. It tries to face some
issues not resolved yet in other projects such as: organisation, continous
programming, content sharing, community partecipation, european networking (*we
look for european partners*), transparent funding, non-profit economical
autonomy. For these reasons it started a development website and write down a

The Manifesto of Urban Televisions reflects the current Italian debate on
media, hybridising it with Dutch blends like Public Domain 2.0 and with some
tools from French-Italian postfordist criticism (I like to describe Urban Tv as
a postfordist media and not only as a tactical one). I know (but I'm not sure),
all this tv hype is a deja-vu for a lot of tactical nettimers. But I believe
that the New Thing *here* is the connection of the (big) Italian movement with
new media activism. Next stop Geneva 2003. Enjoy.




For a participative democracy of mass media 
(and the realisation of the first italian open access television)


1.  Scenario: independent communication and media monopoly
2.  New rights: the right to self-organise communication
3.  New spaces: the Public Domain of media
4.  New policies: the culture of new media
5.  Tactical media: television meets the net
6.  Tactical television: public access channels
7.  Tactical contents: from national programming to urban programming
8.  The urban model: television rooted in the urban life
9.  The economical model: non-profit cooperative media
10. The political model: the autonomy of society


1.  Bologna Urban TV
2.  Public Domain 2.0 Campaign

1. Scenario: independent communication and media monopoly

A new kind of media culture is spreading worldwide: next to the traditional means of independent communication, such as radio and Internet, today we find hundreds of experiments involving an "old" medium like TV: independent televisions, street and satellite video channels, web TVs and community channels. This video activism wave targetting TV was born as an alternative to a worldwide corporate and public television monopoly.

Today we believe society has acquired the democratic maturity and the cultural and technical know-how to self-organise its own media in the form of Urban Televisions, that is open access television channels rooted in the city life.

2. New rights: the right to self-organise communication

During the last decades society has developed a new consciousness on communication rights. Today such rights are claimed together with all the other universal and citizenship rights. See for instance the People's Communication Charter (

This new consciousness needs to grow further: within the frame of a new public domain of media, society must recognize its active right to self-organize communication, and not only the simple passive right to access communication. 

3. New spaces: the Public Domain of media

The culture of independent communication in any form, from video activism to free radios to Free Software, has opened a new space among common media and technologies, a space whose political and cultural citizenship must now be recognized.

The cultural, political and legal frame of this movement is a space that we call Public Domain of communication. As a Public Domain we understand a sphere which does not belong neither to the State nor to the Market, but to the whole society, and it is managed and controlled by the society itself (not to be misunderstood with the public service performed by the State). 

The actors that have contributed more to the extension of Public Domain must now work on the internal self-organization and external visibility. See the Dutch campaign Public Domain 2.0 (

The new autonomous public domain of communication must be recognized by institutions as means of participative democracy and new municipalism. Institutions must finally support the instruments and solutions to transform the fordist society into a post-fordist society.

4. New policies: the culture of new media

Institutional policies on new media only consider the question of access (often in a market-oriented perspective) and do not understand their value as means of democratic participations and as catalyser of culture and innovation.

During the last years, thanks only to new spontaneous practices coming from the society, a new media culture was able to grow. The delay of institutions has allowed the independent communication movement to reach the critical mass and self-organise into autonomous entities.

Italian cultural policies only invest on the preservation of cultural heritage and not on innovation, as it happens in the north of Europe. This intellectual gap only considers new media as new containers for old contents. They need to be recognized as autonomous forms of culture and social experimentation.

5. Tactical media: television meets the net

The net has represented the period of discovery and training to participative media. But it is still television that maintains a central role in society, culture and politics. For this reason, it is necessary to deconstruct it in a real democratic way, and to let the television medium meet the net medium. Television must be considered a new prosthesis and an extension of the net: but to avoid another media alternative "ghetto", the horizontality of the net must meet the "socialising" power of television.

Strategies of independent communication are: gaining access to channels and technologies, proliferation of broadcasters, production of alternative contents. For Urban Televisions the nodal point is not only the simple control of channels or contents, but the re-conquest of the collective enunciation of the message. That is, the re-conquest of the public and collective role represented by television.

Working today on the television medium can be interesting only if it is transformed into a new participative, transparent and ethical medium: in order to address its power to the cultural and economical development of society itself, and not only to support market or political consensus. 

6. Tactical television: public access channels

For this reason it is necessary to create Urban Televisions in the form of open access television channels and to promote a social and communitarian participation to them. 

"Public access" means a TV channel not only accessible, but managed by the communities that compose the social life of a city. Public access has a meaning if it is used for a collective content sphere, and not for a top-down programming.

"Community television" means a television that is not only a simple public access and a rhetorical exercise of free speech (open publishing) but is also able to "make society" and build social texture (community access and not simply open access).

Urban Televisions are based on a wide social participation and does not only involve media activists and practitioners (as it happens in several independent project).

Urban Televisions have a social mission and status safeguarded by an Ethical Chart that recognizes all rights, duties and pleasures of a participative communication.

The Italian delay in public access media must face those European experiences that show the possibility to create televisions managed from the society itself.

7. Tactical contents: from national programming to urban programming

Urban Televisions are televisions that make information, entertainment and culture and are able to construct a daily narration where the whole society recognizes and confronts itself. Urban televisions re-conquest programming as a genre of collective narration. Instead of a national programming, backbone of the political consensus and of the social biorhythms, an urban programming is built bottom-up.

The heart of Urban Televisions is a Community Programming which mirrors the whole social mosaic and leaves its spaces to self-organisation of communities and single citizens. Community Programming also organises democratic spaces of confrontation and respects the most radical and anti-conformist styles and contents.

8. The urban model: television rooted in the urban life

Independent communication must discover the city again as a new dimension of action, because the city is the first and elective ground of making society. A public access city television can root easily into any sector of civil, cultural and economical life. Urban Television turns out to be a precious means and a model of participative municipalism.

We have to stop considering the movement as the first speaker of free communication and be prepared to make society and conquest everyday life spaces. The aim of the Manifesto of Urban Televisions is to transform an international innovation movement into a movement that actually builds up society.

9. The economical model: non-profit cooperative media

New models of social communication are only credible and alternative to monopoly if they are economically autonomous. Media-activism must avoid some of the errors made in the past: in its history it has created ruptures and invented practices that the market has promptly colonised (e.g. Italian free radios of the '70 which cleared the way to commercial radios).

Urban Televisions are based on a model of non-profit social cooperation, where profits are re-invested into new productions and projects for the communities. 

Urban Televisions work as meta-medium of local economy in a post-fordist perspective: they trig the multi-media economy, valorise bottom-up productions and realize a content economy with social aims.

10. The political model: the autonomy of society

Urban Televisions are born out of the initiatives of society and not out of institutions or market. Institutional policies must recognize self-organisation in the field of culture and media, and must avoid the simulations of "civil society" and "social communication" for political or commercial purposes. 

Urban Televisions inaugurate a new relationship between the society and the economical and institutional subjects. This way they overcome the old vertical structures of mediation and political representation to give room to new horizontal and autonomous networks, more suitable for the contemporary post-fordist society.


1. Bologna Urban TV 

The first Italian open access television channel is going to be launched in Bologna, with the name of Urban TV. Citizenship from the most important cities are invited to develop Urban Televisions to transform media-activism and independent communication in a constituent and lasting process, with the aim to build up an Italian and European network. The project based in Bologna represents a prototype for all Italian cities. Bologna Urban TV becomes effective through the following steps: creation of a non-profit association, launch of a development website (, launch of a social campaign for a new civic culture of media and television.

2. Public Domain 2.0 Campaign

Public Domain 2.0 is an international concept to introduce new ideas and instruments for a modern media culture. Bologna Urban TV wants to focus particularly on the following three points: a new debate on public domain of communication, bandwidth access for a civic and social use of communication, a social economy based on new media.

 / Written by Matteo Pasquinelli /
 / Translated by Cinzia Negherbon /
 / Open to collective editing /
 / /

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: