The establishment of a public radio and television broadcasting company was a major historical and diplomatic event. In 1990, San Marino ratified a cooperation agreement with Italy, thus regaining its independence and the right to make its voice heard also through these means; a prerogative which it had renounced in 1953.
San Marino RTV, the public company responsible for the Republic’s radio and television services, was established in 1991. San Marino RTV is the exclusive provider of the public radio and television broadcasting service. Among its transmissions, information programmes play a leading role, although there is enough space for others in the fields of economics, society, culture, politics, etc., San Marino RTV contributed to the country’s civic education through social campaigns on the environment, alcoholism, handicap, third age, etc and broadcasts alternative programmes. In 2002, changes in managerial positions were accompanied by a new editorial line, in compliance with Law n. 41 of 1989, Establishing the San Marino Broadcasting Company, and with the mandate of the Board of Directors. The pivotal concept of this new cultural policy was the “sammarinesità”, taking into consideration the different local contexts, including those most decentralised and least considered.
There are also programmes concerning art and culture, offering a different perspective according to the target audience. Addressed to the younger generations, the “TG Ragazzi” proposes references to music, youth culture and education; the “TG Comunità” has been created for San Marino citizens abroad and it is broadcasted every month. The aim is to provide San Marino citizens living in the country with an overview of the activities that their fellow citizens abroad carry out and, at the same time, offer to the associations and communities a new communication channel, besides the institutional ones, to establish a dialogue among them and with the Republic. To this end, San Marino RTV has sent a web-cam to all 25 communities to provide live broadcasts with the headquarters and the members of the associations worldwide. Every edition is also available on the web-site of San Marino RTV for on-line consultation. “Viale Kennedy 13” is another TV magazine format: theatre, art, music, culture, history, tangible and intangible knowledge of the Republic and the territory.
Finally, “Rubricario” deals with volunteer activities, associations and solidarity; its protagonists are San Marino local movements and associations, connected to the Montefeltro area, in the light of the Diocesan Pastoral: catechism and parish communities of the territory. Particular attention is paid to the religious calendar of the Christian Laity: events, institutional and religious anniversaries of the San Marino-Montefeltro Diocese.
In March 2008, an Agreement on Radio and Television Cooperation was signed between the Republic of San Marino and the Italian Republic. The Agreement, already ratified by San Marino, represents a step forward in the cooperation between the two countries in this strategic sector. Besides ending the monopoly regime, it provides for the extension of the catchment area for San Marino RTV, the opportunity to use the satellite and to establish synergies between the San Marino broadcasting station and the Italian RAI in the fields of staff training, technological devices and programming.
From 2008, and throughout the following four years, the journalist Carmen Lasorella held the position of Director of San Marino RTV. Since the beginning of her mandate, she has been committed to improving information, by working with the support of the government to strengthen the structure, extend the catchment area and broadcast satellite transmissions. This benefited from international information: the introduction of a broad-base news bulletin with the involvement of experts was an important step forward due to the broadcasting of satellite transmissions. Indeed, another agreement signed between RAI and San Marino RTV in October 2009 concerns the technical quality of services, computerised television and radio production, as well as new technological platforms, mainly aimed at interactivity, in order to improve television services offered to citizens. In June 2009, on the occasion of the live broadcast of the administrative election results, the new web site of San Marino RTV was put on-line. It is a real Internet portal enabling extension of the catchment area compared to analogue systems and favouring information through the most modern technology. The portal, developed in such a way as to be accessible to non-sighted and partially-sighted people, displays all editions of the news, offers high video quality and the possibility of interaction with users, as well as more flexibility.
In October 2012, Carlo Romeo, RAI manager, replaced Carmen Lasorella as Director General of San Marino RTV. Political and social forces are requesting some changes in the management, to be introduced through an editorial planning more in line with reality and a project to re-launch the broadcasting company. In this way, it will be possible to enhance the aspects connected with its identity and history, in order to reach the potentially unlimited audience of digital terrestrial TV, satellite and web.
San Marino has 3 daily newspapers published on the territory, one of which is also electronic. Moreover, news concerning San Marino can also be found in some newspapers of the surrounding areas. There is also a local weekly paper – “San Marino Fixing” – reporting on economics, finance and politics, which, since 2008, deals with San Marino culture on a monthly basis. In its presentation, this new supplement has been defined as a contribution to the country’s social awareness, considering that the moral growth of a population is influenced by the improvement of its cultural life and that economic development and wellbeing are a direct consequence thereof. Among daily newspapers, “La Tribuna Sammarinese” publishes a supplement, a magazine on art, music and culture in the Republic of San Marino. “La Maison”, a periodical dealing with housing, includes a specific section on visual arts written by an art critic. The Associations of San Marino citizens abroad deal with cultural issues related to San Marino through their magazines – inter alia “La Voce dei Sammarinesi”, “Il Titano”, “Lo Scalpello”, “Pagine Sammarinesi”, “Forum”. The latest to be published in the Republic is “Avvenimenti”, an information periodical of the San Marino Foundation. Nowadays, the San Marino banking foundations are becoming so important at cultural level to be defined as “examples of active citizenship to the service of civil society”. Indeed, today any exhibition, event and cultural project can benefit from the economic support and sponsorship of the Credit Institutions Foundations (see also chapter 1.3.3 for the emerging cooperation with the Foundations).
In 2005, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs improved its website by including information on the Republic’s international activities and relations, which can be easily accessed also by foreign organisations and San Marino citizens residing abroad.
The publishing sector is regulated by Law no. 211 of 2014 Law on Publishing and the Profession of Media Operators amending and supplementing the preceding Law no. 25 of 1998. Actually, before the adoption of the new law, the persons directly concerned, who were very critical of the law in force at the time, had made their voices heard in various contexts for a better defined and regulated sector.
In May 2007, San Marino decided to celebrate World Press Freedom Day by promoting a public meeting on “Freedom and information: meeting with the protagonists”. The event represented an opportunity to discuss the central role played by free information in the protection and enhancement of democracy and the freedom of citizens in any country, as well as the attacks and situations to which journalists are often subjected. The meeting was followed by a debate with the San Marino media on the topic “Information in San Marino: rules, rights, professions”. The operators in this field submitted a series of requests. The most urgent ones concerned: the agreements with Italy to develop San Marino professionals; access to sources and the truth on the basis of the right to information and in the public interest; collective bargaining; a Law on the Press to define rights and duties of journalists; training and updating professional skills; the creation of a Code of Conduct for journalists and a Council for Information.
In May 2008, a first reading of a new Law Regulating the Activity of Publishers and Journalists was held at the Parliament. The purpose of this law was to guarantee transparency in property and financing of newspapers, freedom and pluralism of information by publishers and to adopt a code of conduct for journalists. The objective was therefore to improve the quality of this activity. Moreover, the introduction of the register of publishers by the Supervising Commission, the task of which was to regulate this sector and the related professions, aimed at carrying out a thorough analysis of this field so as to identify those entitled to State contributions (see also chapter 3.5.1 for contributions to the publishing sector). The draft law was put on hold until the appointment of a new legislature following elections (November 2008).
There was a lack of guarantees and instruments safeguarding operators and users, a code of professional ethics and an ad hoc professional association, which made the production of information open to any kind of influence. On 1st April 2005, a new Union of San Marino Journalists and Photo-journalists (USGi) was established. As specified in the Statute, the Association, which has about 50 members, intends to: defend press freedom, protect the reputation of journalists, photographers and cameramen, also through a better definition of their terms of contract; establish relations with domestic and foreign organisms, bodies, associations and institutions with a view to favouring and safeguarding its members’ activity, also outside the country, and promote greater awareness of the various issues concerning journalists through the organisation of events or the creation of independent press bodies. Moreover, in September 2005, San Marino hosted an international conference entitled “The Information Society: freedom, pluralism, resources”.
In October 2011, a group of San Marino citizens submitted a popular petition (Istanza d’Arengo) to the Captains Regent “to regulate, by means of a specific legislation, the professional status of journalists”. During its sitting of January 2012, the Parliament approved the petition by majority and committed the government to adopt, within its fields of competence, the relevant measures, which should have been illustrated, within six months following the granting of the petition, to the competent Permanent Parliamentary Commission (II) by the member of the Congress of State (Minister of Information) entrusted with this task (for further information on the Parliamentary Commissions, see chapter 1.2.2).
A new popular petition, submitted by San Marino citizens in October 2012 requesting the adoption of a law regulating the profession of journalist, also by establishing a specific professional register, was approved in January 2013. “Indeed, the need is felt for legislation regulating this sector in order to guarantee the right to information, on the one hand, and the protection of media operators and citizens, on the other”. However, not all operators have the same opinion. Indeed, while the regulation of the delicate issue of information is fundamental and cannot be postponed, such regulation cannot imply the creation of an “information caste” in a democratic, liberal and evolved country. “Good information” and “good journalism” cannot be obtained through strict rules and classification in a professional register […] but through study, training and apprenticeship. […]”.
The need to regulate the sector was therefore proven by this Istanza d’Arengo, specifically requesting a code of conduct for the profession, with responsibilities resting on journalists. In order to respond to this and to all the requests from the media and the publishing industry, in March 2014 the Ministry responsible for Information submitted to the Parliament a draft law on publishing and media operators. The law was approved in December 2014 and establishes a Consulta (Council) and an Authority, highlighting the importance of the right and duty to inform and to be informed by professionals who are not subject to self-regulation, but are protected and assessed by institutions indirectly appointed by citizens.
Many amendments were submitted by the Opposition during the legislative process and a large part of them were approved. The report drawn up by the Majority on the draft law specifies the following: “Only where opposing and different views were expressed, it was not possible to reconcile them, although the discussion was marked by dialogue”. The rapporteur of the Minority, on the same wavelength, defined as positive the attitude of the Minister responsible for Information, for the balance maintained in the two Commissions, by avoiding forcing the proposals of the Majority, and for accepting some suggestions of the Opposition, which have improved some elements of the draft law. The law was voted and approved in two different sessions of the competent Permanent Council Commission, because it took time for the political forces represented in Parliament to reach a compromise and the exchange of views was heated.
The new law now recognises and regulates the professions in the information sector: it identifies the categories of professionals working in this field, establishes a qualifying training programme for journalists, establishes a code of conduct, redefines the supervisory body entrusted with the supervision of the activity of the professionals, distributes proportionally the benefits to the publishing sector, gives the definition of “publishing firm”, “newspaper”, “on-line newspaper”, “information agency” and of their operating limits, raises the number and the quality of publishing products, newspapers and/or periodical journals, books and literary works, in paper or electronic format to be created, published and divulged. The law also establishes the Consulta per l’Informazione (Council for the Information), whose tasks are laid down in Article 5. The Council for the Information is composed of journalists holding a Press Card, i.e. all categories of journalist (publicists and publishers) working in San Marino.
The draft law on publishing and on the profession of media operators was approved (Law no. 211 of 5 December 2014) but received criticism. San Marino now has a new and partially contested law in the publishing sector, closing the regulatory gap in this field. The Government divulged a press release explaining that the main goal of this Law “is to ensure a good balance between the right and duty to inform and the right to privacy and ethics, in line with transparency but also with the responsibility of the operators”. The approved law recognises and regulates the profession of journalist, in order to ensure professionalism and dignity and to encourage critical thinking through the work of professionals providing correct information and consistent with the ethics of the profession. This law establishes that each editorial product must be provided with the names of the members of the editors, the capital used and the method of financing, so that the ownership of every journalistic product is known, for the benefit of the freedom to inform and the right of citizens to be properly informed. Media workers, gathered together in the Consulta, have the freedom and the responsibility to write and to adopt the Code of Conduct, namely the rules that the Authority (body with mixed composition) will enforce.
The Opposition strongly criticised the conflict that this law, which is considered as incomplete, generates between politics and information; journalism and information are even referred to as “counter-power”. “The independence of the media – said the Opposition – cannot be ruled by law. A law could eventually create better conditions to ensure that professional journalists can express their intellectual honesty in the best way”.
After the approval of this law, media workers still have concerns about it, in particular about the democratic protection of press freedom and the freedom of information and the need to be aware of the beneficiaries of the business activities of the media. Another issue concerns the introduction of an oversight Authority, mainly composed of members politically elected. Even the USGI, San Marino Union of Journalist and Photojournalists, is clearly against the political control that the bodies provided for by law may exercise over the profession and the professionals, considering the fact that members of the Authority are politically elected. In response to the criticisms expressed, the Majority replied that the law establishes a special Council of media workers, allowing them to lay down their rules, their code of conduct and provides for the possibility of appeals; the task to enforce them and to sanction is entrusted to a third party. According to the Majority, this law highlights the importance of the right and duty to inform properly, raising the power of the media workers to a higher level than the regular exercise of a right to practice a profession.
In particular, article 28 of this law is specifically dedicated to the “Prohibition of abuse of dominant positions.” Therefore even the publishing sector shall comply with the principles of competition and pluralism, forbidding understandings and agreements between companies operating in the field of mass communications that may restrict or distort these principles. Article 6 entrusts the Authority for Information with the power of control and the task to oversight on the principles and the purposes of the radio and television service, taking over some tasks previously entrusted to the Supervisory Authority under Law N. 41/1989.
With regard to training, except for some one-off courses organised some years ago, neither periodic refresher courses nor grants have been recently established. In order to bridge this gap between the law and practice, among the priorities of the Ministry of Information was the organisation of courses directed to the workers of this sector.
The Ministries of Labour and Information, in co-operation with the Professional Training Centre of San Marino, established, in 2007, a preparatory training course in journalism and public communication, sponsored by the Association of Journalists of Bologna, the San Marino Journalists Union (USGi) and with the agreement of the Supervising Commission. The objective of the course was to provide guidelines in the fields of journalism, the use of multimedia, radio and on-line information through theory and practice. The course offered two scholarships to access qualified training with some of the Italian newspapers. This training represented the first step towards the creation of a school of journalism.
In 2009, the first and only edition of the specialisation course “Profession Reporter” was organised by the State Broadcasting Company and the Vocational Training Centre, with the support of the Universities of Urbino and Tor Vergata in Rome, as well as of the School of Radio and Television Journalism in Perugia. This course, taught by prominent Italian journalists, has contributed to the practice and knowledge of technological instruments, with in-depth studies on communication techniques and the profession of envoy for print media and on-line journalism, mainly concerning digital, satellite and web broadcasting means.
With the aim of providing regular training in this sector, Art. 4 of the new Law on publishing precisely establishes the training process of media operators, in order to promote professional and cultural workshops also dealing with technological innovation. Training projects are developed either by the Council for Information (for more information on this body, see above) or in collaboration with public and private bodies, companies operating in this field, universities and/or schools of journalism. This Law also entrusts the Ministry responsible for Information with the power to establish, in cooperation with the Council for Information and the local publishers, special scholarships for the vocational training of San Marino journalists or professionals living in San Marino.
The World Day of Press Freedom was celebrated in 2008 with a public meeting entitled “Information between localism and globalisation”. A journalism prize was offered for the first time – “Small Europe” – aimed at press, radio television and new media journalists of Italian speaking communities in Europe. In 2009, on the occasion of the World Day, a round table promoted by the Ministry of Information gathered the directors of newspapers to discuss the degree of press freedom in San Marino. The outcome of these discussions was that, considering the level of press and information through the Internet and television, information appears well represented to give voice to a plurality of opinions. Today’s problem is rather the quality of news and the economic, and therefore political, independence of those working in this sector. In order to achieve high levels of quality, economic and professional resources are necessary, together with better access to sources. Indeed, the birth of investigative journalism is today prevented by a lack of access to sources. Despite San Marino ranking among the first countries in the global white list, compiled by the NGO Freedom House for 2008, on account of its press freedom, information stakeholders have underlined that press freedom can be easily influenced. Several problems have emerged: the lack of a framework for professional journalists and of a labour contract recognising and protecting the everyday activity of journalists and editors, as well as serious gaps in the legislation on press crimes and publishing. One of the problems identified in the fleeting borders between press freedom and censorship is the balance between the right to report and right to privacy, mainly in a small country like San Marino.
In 2010, on the occasion of the celebrations of the World Press Freedom Day, the Minister for Information declared that in San Marino “there is not in practice a completely free and autonomous press, since all have their own opinions, starting from publishers, who, among other things, are not pure. Pluralism, that is to say a plurality of newspapers, is the only strong point”. Concerning the situation of San Marino information, the Minister recalls the steps forward made by the country, mainly over the last years, and agrees on the need to further improve the quality of information by promoting more training and specialisation courses and by increasing economic resources.
In May 2013, the conference “Free Press, Free State”, aimed at fostering a debate with media operators, closed the first phase of works for the drafting of the Law on publishing, entered into force in December 2014.
The conference held in May 2015, “Broken pencils? Freedom of expression between propaganda and truth”, celebrated the world freedom of information and it was the occasion to recall the journalists killed by terrorism. In his opening address, the Minister responsible for information presented the main themes and the reasons for the conference, “which inevitably leads us to reflect on the events that have recently marked our time, influencing peace and cohabitation of peoples with different cultures and religions. After what happened at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo nothing can be like before […]. Information, satire, written or figurative forms of dialogue have been hit with unprecedented violence, shaking our consciences and forcing us to deal with the issue of freedom of the press, of thought and information”.
In 2013 the Foundation “Valori Tattili” joined the publisher of a historic San Marino newspaper. At a time when publishing is suffering more than other sectors from the effects of the economic crisis, the choice made by the Foundation has reaffirmed the importance of newspapers as vehicles of culture, besides pure information (for further details on the banking Foundation see chapter 1.3.3).