4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture
The extension of broadband should presently become a key priority on the government's agenda, which calls for substantial investment in the next few years to cope with overcoming Italy's digital divide. In fact, at the end of 2011, only 51.7% of Italian dwellings were connected to broadband, against a European average of 61%, whereas only 59% of Italian families have access to the Internet, against 70% of European families (Eurostat data).
Dealing strictly with the cultural field, one of the main challenges that Italy is presently tackling in the field of new technologies is the transformation of its analogical television system into a Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) system, experimentally started in 2005 on platforms operated by both RAI and Mediaset (see Gasparri Law, chapter 5.3.7). The deadline for the transfer of the whole TV system to DTT, originally set by Law 112/2004 for 2006, has been subsequently postponed to 2012. The deadline should be actually be reached by the end of the current year, as the transfer has already taken place in all Italian regions but two (Sicily and Sardinia). In addition to the supply of the 7 national networks, dtt allows – along with Sky's satellite television - a far more extended supply of TV channels, including -for Mediaset only, not for RAI - Pay TV channels.
The use of new technologies in artists' work is on the rise, as shown by the significant number of works presented in this medium at the Italian Pavilion of the most recent Venice Biennale (2011). More and more visual and performing artists are actively making use of new technologies, albeit rather spontaneously, and without any kind of public support yet.
In a country in which heritage ranks much higher than creativity among cultural policy priorities, it is no wonder, though, that state attention, rather than on cultural production, is mainly focused on cultural conservation, that is on new technologies as a means for safeguarding and cataloguing the artistic and historic property, as well as for promoting it through innovative networking and through information and educational services for the public, tourists, etc. (see chapter 4.2.2).