Tatiana Bazzichelli on Thu, 5 Aug 2004 17:53:48 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Gasparri shuts off Italian neighborhood TV channel

Senigallia, Italy, 26 July 2004

Senigallia, a small resort city on Italy's Adriatic coast, has recently
been the subject of a lot of controversy after a police order closed down
a local television station. Aside from being a popular seaside
destination, it is the home of Disco Volante, one of the first public
access TV channels in Italy. The small station, which broadcasts within
the old city walls, started out as a community organization that worked
with handicapped and socially disadvantaged residents. Despite being
recent recipients of the Ilaria Alpi award for journalism, named after the
Italian reporter killed while investigating arms dealers in Somalia in the
early 90s, its staff now risks time behind bars.

In September 2003, Disco Volante was notified by the Italian
Communications Ministry that they were operating outside the law. They
were ordered to immediately cease operations. Its organizers, by now
well-known and respected in the community for their work with the mentally
challenged, decided to keep things going.  In June 2004 their small
production company, Street TV, produced a report on the hardships faced by
the local handicapped residents that earned them the prestigious Alpi

Today, 10 months after being tossed out of their improvised studios, the
trial which will decide Disco Volante's future has yet to take place.

With the recent approval of the Gasparri / Gonfalonieri law, which orders
the reorganization of Italy's telecommunications monopoly, Disco Volante
is once again feeling the heat. But, its founders, community leaders who
truly believe in what they do, are not going down without a fight.

Translated by Brendan Monaghan

Contact Information:

Telestreet / Disco Volante
Press Office
Via Rodi, 6
60019 Senigallia (AN)

tel + 39 071 650 33
tel + 39 071 634 95

web www.telestreet.it
web www.studiozelig.it
email studio.zelig@tiscali.it
email fabriman@tiscali.it


Press Release from National Federation of Newspaper Journalists (Italy)

The regional prosecutor of the city of Ancona, in Italy's Marches region,
has recently sent out a notice of investigation to the founders of a small
television station in the seaside resort city of Senigallia.  The
initiative came as a surprise to the organization Telestreet / Disco
Volante, made up of and dedicated to the handicapped residents of the
town. The decision is a result of the recent decision of the Italian
Ministry of Communications to restructure the Italian television
broadcasting. Once again, the Ministry, under the leadership of Maurizio
Gasparri, is taking a strike at the "weakest links" in the
telecommunications industry. The law, which carries Gasparri's name, will
guarantee Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi more control over a
majority of the Italy's networks. Last month Disco Volante received the
prestigious Ilaria Alpi award for journalism for a report they produced on
obstacles faced by Senigallia's handicapped residents.  Despite all of
that, the judiciary of the City of Ancona ordered that Telestreet
immediately cease operations and that the legal proceedings against them
begin immediately. The charge? Illegal television broadcasting. Mediaset
and RAI, despite being in gross violation of certain laws regulating the
diffusion of publicity, continue to operate with impunity. Meanwhile,
small local stations such as Telestreet can be crushed in an instant. Is
this the future of the diffusion of information in Italy?

Translated by Brendan Monaghan


Gasparri shuts off neighborhood TV channel run by handicapped residents
from www.articolo21.com 28 July 2004

by Daniela Amenta (L'Unita')

As if shutting them down wasn't enough, the authorities went as far as to
continue their legal battle against Disco Volante, a small neighborhod TV
channel run by the handicapped community of Senigallia.  The editors and
staff of the tiny TV channel who only wished to document the life and
hardships faced by the disabled residents now risk being put behind bars.
18 months of detention, to be exact. A would-be consequence of Italy's new
Gasparri Law, the latest paradox in the initiative the save Rete4, a major
TV network owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Disco
Volante started out in the small resort city on Italy's Adriatic coast.
With a small staff including members of disabled community, they used
their channel as a way of increasing public awareness of the everyday
obstacles and injustices faced by the physically and mentally challenged
residents of Senigallia.  Disco Volante broadcasts to viewers in a range
of a couple of hundred meters within the city walls, tiny, yes, but enough
to get the authorities to intervene.

Operating without proper permission was enough to get them silenced. In
September 2003 a report was sent to the magistrate of the city of Ancona.
Yesterday the Ancona prosecutor notified the channel's founder, Enea
Discepoli, that the legal proceedings against him for "Broadcasting
activity without proper government authorization" were about to begin.  
Now Discepoli risks going to jail. It didn't seem to matter much when
Rete4 was operating in violation of certain laws. Nor did it matter that
Disco Volante had recently earned the Ilaria Alpi award for journalism for
their reports on the handicapped community of Senigallia. "A prize we
earned by for our hard work," comments Discepoli, "for documenting a
report on the typical day of Franco Civelli, a disabled man confined to a
wheelchair". First the damage, now the controversy.

A similar thing happened in 2002 to Telefabbrica, a TV channel founded to
support the Fiat workers in Termini Imerese in their struggle to prevent
mass lay offs. In Italy, there are about a hundred of these small "street
TV" channels, usually convening in tiny improvised studios. Their main
scope to ensure freedom of information and to protest against the huge
monopolies of the telecommunications industry.  They report on the social
and progressive issues being faced by the community, using real people and
examples. A difficult task in an industry where the richest and most
powerful prevail.

Giovanna Grignaffini, a deputy of Italy's Democrats of the Left political
party, collected the signatures of about 100 members of parliament to save
"street TV". The petition eventually made it to the chamber of deputies in
October 2003 and the deputies requested that the government not shut down
these "street TV" channels without a thorough investigation into why their
activities were illegal. These pleads were of course never taken into
consideration by Gasparri.

Disco Volante broadcasted only for about 4 months. Today they operate
without antennas and continue to be defiant in the face of what they see
as a grand injustice. "We're not giving up now. We still have our cameras
we'll keep filming everything happening around us for as long as we can,"
says Fabrizio Manizza, staff member and editor. "We work with the disabled
and it's a wonderful experience in creativity and art. It's also important
for the freedom of information." Perhaps another type of information,
which, for some reason is not included in the future plans of those
running the country. "First, they approve the Gonfalonieri / Gasparri Law
and the SIC and without moving a finger they give their blessing to RAI
and Finivest to do whatever they want. But then they come knocking on the
door of our small channel, threatening us with prison time. Does anyone
want to comment on that?" adds Manizza. It stirs up emotion, yes, and it
would stir up even more reporting on the fact that the Association of
Roman Jurists declared such moves by the authorities to be "illegitimate
abuses of power". For now, Disco Volante remains silenced, but its
founders and believers aren't giving up so easily. And so, the battle
against those who silence those they don't like, will continue.

Translated by Brendan Monaghan


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