The climate emergency is being ignored by TV news and commentary in Italy. Fossil fuels are mentioned among its causes in just 10% of cases, and the issue of greenwashing and those who are responsible for global warming are never pointed out.
These are the findings of an analysis commissioned by Greenpeace from the Pavia Observatory, which examined all primetime editions of news programs in the period January-April 2022 and a sample of six TV shows dealing with in-depth commentary on RAI, Mediaset and LA7, namely Unomattina, Cartabianca, Mattino5, Quarta Repubblica, L’Aria che tira and Otto e mezzo.
According to the results collected, over the four months, the news outlets broadcast 14,211 news stories, but only 96 covered the climate crisis, just 0.7 percent of the total. Even the news outlets most focused on this issue, namely TG5, TG1 and TG3, did not broadcast more than six reports per month explicitly dedicated to the climate crisis. At the bottom of the ranking were TG, LA7 and TG4, which on average covered climate change just once every two months. The analysis of the shows offering in-depth commentary didn’t show reassuring results either: the climate crisis was discussed in just 24 episodes of the 388 aired.
The most praiseworthy program was Cartabianca (RAI), which addressed the issue in a third of the episodes broadcast and always in an explicit way (although some will remember its serious failure with the episode that featured a climate denialist guest arguing with Luca Mercalli), while Unomattina (RAI) was the program that talked about the climate crisis in the largest number of episodes, amounting to 12. At the bottom of the ranking were LA7’s two shows: L’Aria che tira, which never mentioned climate change at all, and Otto e mezzo, which did so only once and by implication.
Although on TV the climate crisis is mainly presented as an environmental problem and the experts are given the most coverage, in the news programs fossil fuels are mentioned among its causes only in 10% of cases and no culprit for global warming is ever mentioned. Similarly, in the television programs analyzed, oil companies were mentioned only once among the culprits, and the problem of greenwashing was never mentioned.
According to Greenpeace, the truth about the climate crisis will only be told when “the power pact that shackles the media to the fossil fuel industry” is finally broken. That is why the NGO has launched the “Stranger Green” campaign, with the goal of periodically analyzing climate-related news in print and television throughout 2022, aiming to start a public debate on the need to free the Italian media from the influence of the oil and gas industry.
At the European level, Greepeace and 30 other international organizations are pursuing the same goal in the form of the petition “Ban Fossil Fuel Advertising and Sponsorships,” which has a goal of reaching one million signatures by October; if successful, the European Commission will be obliged to discuss a bill to put an end to misleading corporate propaganda that fuels the climate crisis.