In 2014 Italy was still affected by a strong digital divide, with a persisting, significant delay in broadband connection for Italian families in comparison to the other EU countries: 36% against 86% (AGCOM 2015 Report).
The extension of broadband availability has therefore become a key priority in the current coalition government’s agenda, Italy’s technological lag being considered one of the foremost reasons for our low productivity rate. According to the new National Plan for Ultra-broadband – adopted in October 2015 – 6 billion of public financial resources should be made available, to be mainly drawn from the European Regional and Social Funds.
On the other hand, dealing strictly with new technologies in the cultural field, the transformation of Italy’s analogical television system into a Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) system was actually carried out by the end of 2012. In addition to the supply of the 7 national networks, dtt allows – along with Sky satellite television – a far more extended supply of TV channels. On the other hand, as RAI and Mediaset have still been privileged in the concession of new licences, access by new actors is still limited.
The use of new technologies in artists’ work is on the rise, as shown by the significant number of works presented by Italian artists in all the national and international arts exhibitions, including the latest shows at the Venice Biennale. 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 safeguarding ranks much higher than artistic creation among cultural policy priorities, it is no wonder, though, that state attention is mainly focused on the digitalisation of heritage rather than on cultural production of new art works. Italy is thus at the forefront in national, European and international projects based on the use of new technologies as a means for safeguarding and cataloguing 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 3.1).
The ministerial programme ICT Culture – in which Italy is acting as a landmark at European level – is mainly focused on promoting digital cultural contents on the web. Other programmes, like Internetculturale and Culturaitalia – as well as the European project Michael (see chapter 1.4.2), in which Italy is actively participating – are aimed at fostering the digital accessibility of heritage, libraries and archives. Furthermore, according to a recent agreement with Google to make Italy’s main sites more accessible through the digital programme Google Street View, the first site to be made accessible is Pompeii.