Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Silvio B.'s misstep?

In American politics there are certain issues which are considered the "third rail". You touch them, you might die.

There is an economic bill working it's way through the system here. One of the items is an increase from 10% to 20% of the VAT tax that SKY subscribers have to pay.

SKY (owned by Rupert Murdoch) controls 92% of the pay satellite TV market. Mediaset (owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) just stared a pay -cable division. Hmm. The left (led by former Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni) said the tax is being raised become SKY is a competitor.

Berlusconi says no, that is not true. His own cable company's customers will also have to pay more. One of Berlusconi's colleagues said the left has traded in their parka jackets for cashmere coats. The left said come on, most of the people who have to pay more are just regular soccer fans, not rich elites.

The head of SKY Italia said doubling the tax is b.s. SKY has created over 3000 well paying jobs, and during an economic crisis why raise taxes on something like this?

I think the reason this is getting so much press is because many people who pay for SKY, individuals and bar/caffes, do it for the soccer/football/calcio matches.

In fact, popular soccer presenter Ilaria D'Amico slammed the planned increase at the start of Sky's flagship soccer show. That is deep.

We'll see how this shakes out. I don't have the soccer or cinema channels. My bills will go up a few euros a month. I don't have a dog in this fight. That said, what surpised me is how someone so media savvy would be tone deaf about this issue.

Soccer here is is the third rail. It's not just a sport. It crosses class lines unlike skiing, golf or tennis. Trying to paint the center-left as elitist on this issue is not going to work.

PM Berulusoni controls most of the non paid media (his Mediaset empire and as PM, the state channels) however, he is going to have a hard time controlling the spin on this soccer debacle. He said the Italian people have more important things to worry about. Of course they do, but I still wouldn't mess around with folk's soccer, especially during tough times.


michelle of bleeding espresso said...

I am *beside myself with glee* that people are actually calling him on this. Apparently there are certain areas of Italian life that you should just not touch...calcio? Duh.

joanne @ frutto della passione said...

I'm not thrilled by the increase and I'm pretty much convinced that this is Silvio striking out at the competition, I mean the only reason he got into politics was to improve business anyway. That said I have to say that this issue (not your post) offends me. What the current government is doing to the future of public education in this country is scandalous. I am speaking as a mother, an elected member of the local School Board and someone who has actually read the law and all its amendments. Focusing on television when schools are being gutted makes my blood boil. How is it that Italians will get worked up over this, but then they'll believe whatever they hear on television regarding education issues? Grrrr, growl, bark. I'm off to chew on my bone now.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

michelle - hello, really. Plus he campaigned not to raise taxes on the middle class.

joanne - I completely understand. I wonder if part of the reason there is more outcry is because he doesn't own SKY and their commentators can say what they want? Down in Rome there were many huge demonstrations against the education bill. I hope people who don't have kids or whose kids are out of the school system realize how this issue does have an impact on all our lives. I've seen what Prop 13 did to the California Public schools (financing was gutted) they have never recovered.

Kim B. said...

One of the reasons Marco left Italy was because he said the Italians don't care anything except calcio, pretty women on the tv, and just generally goofing around. That is, they are completely uninterested in examining what needs to be done for the future and setting about fixing it. The lack of serious discussion about the country's current straits and its future (and its relative decline) really got to him.

So this is interesting on many levels. As you've pointed out, in this case, Berlusconi has touched ONE thing that people DO care about. And as Joanne points out (and you've implied before), while people get all riled up about this, the serious issues facing the country are left (mostly) unaddressed. Good for those who have been protesting on the education measures and getting some attention.

And if this slip-up can finally "catch" him -- all the better. But the guy has incredible staying power, ugh.

Did anybody see the New Yorker profile of him a couple of weeks back?

glamah16 said...

This may actually bring him down. Im still trying to forget his Obama has a nice tan statement.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

kimb - what part of Italy is Marco from? It will be ironic if this is the issue that makes avg. voters (as opposed to journalists, or political junkies) think about the whole conflict of interest situation. My Italian friends are very politically active. I can't vote (of course) but I do find it interesting to talk to them about what is going on here.

glamah16 - I still can't get over his reaction to everyone's else reaction.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

It's amazing to me that folks just don't seem to get the idea that it's especially when times are tough that folks need their "comfort entertainment" and it DOES cross class lines - everyone needs it.

This reminds me of the actors' strike, in a different way.

It would be nice to see SB squirm a bit. I can't imagine this would take him down, though.

Los Angelista said...

Goodness, the way Europeans seem rabid about their soccer/football... it seems like the equivalent of pulling the plug on the Super Bowl an hour before kickoff!

This world is such an economic mess. Crazy how it's not just one country. It's the whole world!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jen - exactly. During the Great Depression, movie admissions went up. B is squirming.

los angelista - good analogy. The crisis proves that we are truly part of a global economy. The subprime mortgage mess in the States is impacted countries all over the world.