M5S plans 'assault on television'

New media strategy designed to give M5S TV presence

M5S plans 'assault on television'

Rome, September 11 - Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) announced a new operation Wednesday dubbed an "assault on television". The communications strategy is designed to give the party a higher public profile by taking advantage of television as a platform for expression. The launch of the new strategy will be significant: several party officials were fanning out for TV appearances on high-profile political programs during prime viewing times Wednesday evening. For example, Luigi Di Maio, vice-president of the Lower House, will face off against a political opponent on the influential television program "Otto e mezzo" on the LA7 TV station. As well, two M5S senators, Vito Crimi and Nicola Morra, will be guests on other talk shows, one on LA7 and the other on RAI2. Such appearances would have once flown in the face of a ban imposed by Grillo on M5S representatives appearing on television talk shows. The ban was imposed at a time when several party members were accusing Grillo, a former comedian, of imposing too tight of control on the party. Grillo, an outspoken opponent of the traditional Italian press, last year issued a media-wide ban on his party politicians. Grillo has also accused both State-owned television network RAI3 and a channel owned by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi as being among the most politically biased stations in Italy. Earlier this year, he said that in an unofficial survey, he found that the most biased television news coverage was found at several Berlusconi-owned stations including TG4, as well as RAI3. The new communications strategy was reportedly very controversial within the party, which has been critical of mainstream media and has relied extensively on its founder and leader Grillo and his blog to get the party message out of the public. But elected parliamentarians in the M5S, many of whom had no public profile or previous media experience before last February's election, reportedly were strong advocates for a higher TV profile. After numerous meetings at the party's communications centre in Milan, M5S co-founder Gianroberto Casaleggio finally gave his approval to the new strategy.

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