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Agcom. Report 2017. Under scrutiny pluralism and fake news

The annual report gives reassurances on the Itedi-L’Espresso merger, confirms the newspaper’s sales crisis, and launches a wide-ranging reflection. Sky is the first TV operator

The guarantee of pluralism of information is one of the main concerns of the Communications Guarantee Authority (AGCOM). This is demonstrated by the contents of the Annual Report 2017 on the activities carried out and the work programs. The Report, published in July 2017, devotes particular attention to the analysis of the distribution of publishing property and market shares in Italy.

PLURALISM – The defence of pluralism is traditionally one of the main missions of the Authority chaired by prof. Angelo Marcello Cardani. The results of recent analysis show that the overall value of the SIC (Integrated Communications System), which includes the various media active on the market (dailies and periodicals, publishers, online headlines, radio, television, cinema, advertising) is estimated at around 17.1 billion euros. Half of the resources (49.5%, amounting to more than eight billion euros) are concentrated in the audio-visual and radio media (including the Internet). Next, there is daily and periodic publishing (including news agencies) with 24.4% (over four billion euros).

In television and radio broadcasting, AGCOM points out that by 2015, no publishing group achieves revenues exceeding the 20% limit set by TUSMAR (Single Text of Audio-visual and Radio Services). In the ranking of revenues, the 21st Century Fox group (Sky Italia, New Italian Television Company, Fox Networks Group Italy) is the first operator (15.4%), followed by Fininvest (Mediaset, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Mediamond) (14, 9%) and Rai (13.7%).

With regard to the daily press, the industry is still undergoing a strong crisis, with a steady drop in sales. For example, La Repubblica dropped from 208,538 copies sold in May 2016 to 174,004 in the same month of 2017. – But the recent migration of Itedi with the Publishing Group L’Espresso, which involves the newspapers La Repubblica, La Stampa and Il Secolo XIX. “The new group, even as a result of the controversial divestments, would have a stake, as can be attributed to 2016, below the limits set by the law”, AGCOM writes.

It should be remembered that the law oversees the distribution of resources and the concentration of ownership at the national level. But what happens at the regional level? It would be interesting and useful to ensure pluralism, and to verify abuse of dominant positions also at the regional level.

FAKE-NEWS AND DISINFORMATION – AGCOM has launched a reflection on the issue of spreading and sharing false news (OR fake-news) and disinformation. The reflection takes place through debates, workshops and an investigation into digital platforms and the information system. The results will be announced during the year. The attempt is to tackle the problems through dialogue between the players in the sector (platform managers, federation agencies or national news outlets, audio-visual media services), drawing on the so-called soft regulation approaches (‘non-invasive regulation’) adopted in the United States, Germany and France.

RIGHTS – Regarding the protection of individual rights, the Authority has decided to update the White Paper on Media and Minors to respond to the new regulatory emergencies of digital media and the emergence of new worrying phenomena such as hate speech and cyberbullying.

MF

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