Shut yo’ mouth, Part Three

Last Tuesday evening, prime time television on the main state channel (RAI 1) was devoted to Silvio Berlusconi,as regular readers of this blog will know. Alternatives to Berlusconi – with the exception of football on Sky – were cancelled or postponed, presumably to avoid our being distracted by more enticing but less healthful products. Ballarò, for example, a current affairs programme on RAI 3, was shifted to Thursday. Matrix, on one of SB’s channels, was simply gagged, because no explanation was owed to anyone except the shareholders, most of whom are family members. I didn’t watch the PM’s show, ostensibly intended to celebrate the success of the government’s rebuilding programme to house the victims of the earthquake in Abruzzo earlier this year. I say ostensibly, because what it actually showed was four families being rehoused in prefabricated structures paid for and built by a single Italian region, without government assistance. But let’s not be picky. SB chose the plates, and filled the fridges – don’t ask with what – and later made use of the opportunity provided so generously by the RAI to insult his opponents – journalists, magistrates, foreigners, the opposition – with remarkable vigour for a man of his age, as though rage at the impertinence of the subject world were a sort of moral Viagra.

The same old stuff? The usual depressing start-of-regime lament? Not this time. Because Berlusconi, the star attraction, drew a mere 13.5% of the viewing public, while Ballarò, two days later, had an audience of just under 19%. That’s a difference in real terms of almost one million people. For someone who prides himself on his gifts as a communicator, this is very bad news indeed. For everyone else it’s enough to make us get ready to dance in the streets.
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