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 award. 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) Italy tel + 39 071 650 33 tel + 39 071 634 95 web www.telestreet.it web www.studiozelig.it email [EMAIL PROTECTED] email [EMAIL PROTECTED] ------------------------------------------- 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 -- 8/|\ --------------------------------------------- /c_"/ Tatiana Bazzichelli //_/\__ web site: http://www.strano.net/bazzichelli / \ http://www.ecn.org/aha /____\ e-mail: [EMAIL PROTECTED] /| --------------------------------------------- # 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: [EMAIL PROTECTED] and "info nettime-l" in the msg body # archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: [EMAIL PROTECTED]