The Berlusconi Effect


When I started to read the chapter about Creative Industries, Convergence Culture and Media Work, I did not have any idea of what kind of news I could successfully connect to the reading. Unfortunately (yes, this is the right word), when I read a brief comment about the “Berlusconi Effect” I felt obligated to write something about the person who is in charge of my country, even though it does not have much to do with the majority of the chapter’s content. “How has Berlusconi lasted this long?” is a question that I recently found as a title of an article on the popular website Business Insider. There are probably multiple answers to this question but I don’t want to touch political issues or “network of contacts” cited in the article. I want to highlight what is probably the main reason that brought him to lead Italy for so many years despite his multiple political failures: ownership over mass media.

For all of you who don’t know anything about the Italian Prime Minister, Berlusconi, he is the owner of Finivest/Mediaset, the biggest private television network in Italy. He is also the owner of many publishing houses, radio, newspapers and a popular soccer team.

Since he was elected Prime Minister he also became in control of public television (RAI) and public radio (Radio RAI) as well. Considering the fact that satellite television, has only recently entered the market just ten years ago, and still today contains only a small percentage of the national audience, it is not hard to understand why Berlusconi  has lasted this long.

This is one of the best examples of how the “commercial mass media environment” argued by Yochai Benkler (pp. 52) affects people. For many years Berlusconi took advantage of his media to promote himself, while excluding many of his political rivals from television programs. He basically entered every Italian family home through the main door: television. Even though I agree with Prof. Deuze when he says that “studies of how people engage their media suggest that a notion of passive, hapless, or apathetic consumption does not do justice to the complex ways in which we consume…media”, I believe it really can shape how we process some information. In this case the effect is not only individual, but also collective since a high percentage of the population (especially old people) with limited media access (no computers) has been highly conditioned by what they have seen or heard, resulting in his many elections as Prime Minister.

I know that probably, talking about this topic, covers only a tiny part of the chapter but I really found it interesting considering I lived and I am still living the “Berlusconi effect”. Everyday, when I open a newspaper or I watch Italian television online I understand how this “effect” is true and how it could be dangerous considering the quantity of media we consume everyday.

I hope my political beliefs did not condition too much my post J

-Fabio Monticone

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