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Current TV landed in Italy in May 2008 on channel 130 of Sky Italia platform, with the purpose of representing an alternative global network of independent information.
Italy is the first non English-speaking country where this channel has been launched, and it constitutes an actual alternative in the Italian scenario where media, especially television, can’t be defined really free and independent and the information’s flow is subjected to a strong conditioning.
Some weeks ago Sky Italia announced the intention of dropping Current TV in consequence of the decision taken in New York by News Corporation, the Rupert Murdoch’s company which owns Sky Italia. This decision was a “complete shock” for Al Gore, the co-founder and the chairman of Current.
After he had got the news he travelled to Italy to react and start a campaign in support of Current. He invited all the Italian Sky’s subscribers and Current viewers to press for the revocation of the measure in the name of independent and free information’s right. He also participated to Annozero, the political talk show conducted by Michele Santoro, an Italian journalist and anchorman who had been hosted by Current in 2010 for the program “Raiperunanotte” in reply to the interruption and the ban of the Italian public service broadcaster’s political talk shows imposed by the government in occasion of the regional elections.
“In this time of rapid political, economic and social transition, the future of healthy democracies depends on independent journalism that is untethered and unafraid. We at Current have dedicated our international media platform to unleash truth tellers, and there is no more critical time for truth telling than in Italy right now,” said Al Gore. “I came to Italy to personally ask Current’s loyal viewers here to tell Sky they want to keep Current.”
Gore upholds that the sudden decision of Sky Italia is due to a real abuse of power from News Corporation, and the reasons are totally political. The first point regards the discontent of Murdoch about the decision of Current to hire Keith Olbermann, a US leftwing journalist considered rather troublesome who has often been clearly critical of News Corporation.
A second point regards the “rapprochement” between Rupert Murdoch and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, “Sky Italia is in the midst of negotiations to enter the digital terrestrial television market and they need Berlusconi’s support,” said Gore.
Current TV has been often critical of Berlusconi and his government and it also broadcasted the documentary produced by PBS “Citizen Berlusconi” about his media’s empire and the conflict of interests, which had never been broadcasted in Italy.
News Corp and Sky Italia excuse their decision through only commercial motivations.
“The non-renewal of Current TV’s carriage agreement with Sky Italia is purely commercial. Current TV asked Sky Italia for double the carriage fee when prime-time viewing had fallen by 40% in the past year. Sky Italia’s offer was in line with the market and reflected the performance of the channel. It had nothing to do with politics”, told a News Corporation spokesman.
However the contradictions of the reasons of News Corp seem to be many and many are the unclear and discordant points especially in regard of the resolution of the contract, the offers of negotiation for a renewal and the data about the audience rating.
For sure the loss of Current TV in Italy would represent also the loss of a channel of independent, not partisan nor influenced information, which is rather uncommon in this country.