Pope meeting managers and staff of RAI-Radio-Televisione Italiana in the Paul VI Hall  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

By Lisa Zengarini

Mar 25 2024

Meeting managers and staff of the Italian broadcasting corporation, RAI, Pope Francis highlights its mission to serve citizens by producing high-quality programmes and unbiased information for the common good.

The primary mission of a public broadcaster is to serve citizens by providing them with truthful and accurate information, education, and high-quality entertainment, Pope Francis said on Saturday.

The Pope was speaking to managers and employees of the RAI-Radio Televisione Italiana, the Italian broadcasting corporation, whom he received on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its radio launch and the 70th anniversary of its first public TV channel.

In his address, Pope Francis noted that the RAI’s history is closely intertwined with the cultural changes that have taken place in Italian society over the past decades, to which it has significantly contributed. “Indeed,” he said, “the media influence our identities, for better or for worse.”

He therefore reflected on two keywords of the RAI’s mission: service and public.

“Communication is a gift to the community.”

Offering a truthful and pluralistic information

Regarding the first point, Pope Francis remarked that in the field of information, serving is essentially about “seeking and promoting the truth, for example by countering the spread of fake news”, and ideological manipulation disrupting the social fabric.

It means avoiding any misleading reductionism, “remembering that the truth is ‘symphonic’ and that it is best attained by learning to listen to the variety of voices – as in a choir – rather than always and only shouting out one’s own idea.”

It also means “serving citizens’ right to correct information,” taking the time to understand and reflect, and “combating cognitive pollution, because information must also be ‘ecological’.”

Cultivate dialogue

Finally, the Pope said, it means guaranteeing pluralism “because, as Saint John Paul II already stated, ‘the truth […], even when it has been achieved – and this always happens in a limited and perfectible way – can never be imposed.’”

Pope Francis therefore urged the attendees to cultivate dialogue, “weaving threads of unity” in their work.

“[To cultivate dialogue you need to listen. To think about my position without receiving that of others is not true listening.”

As for other productions offered by the RAI, including cinema, fiction, TV series, cultural and entertainment programmes, sports stories, children’s programmes, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of promoting the search for beauty, the values solidarity, safeguarding freedom, and of endeavouring to ensure that every artistic expression ennobles lives of all viewers.

The implications of AI

Pope Francis also spoke about the new information technologies, reiterating the need for preventive action and regulatory tools “to forestall harmful, discriminatory, and socially unjust effects of the use of systems of artificial intelligence” and “to combat their misuse for the purpose of reducing pluralism, polarizing public opinion or creating forms of groupthink.”

The Pope then went on to reflect on the public nature of the RAI’s broadcasting, noting that this feature underlines that its service “is connected to the common good.”

It therefore involves first of all “the commitment to consider and give voice, especially to the least, the poorest, those who have no voice, those who are discarded.”

It also implies the vocation to be an instrument to enhance knowledge, to open people’s horizons, and “to educate young people to dream big.”

Audience shares are less important than quality

The Pope, therefore, called on the RAI to pursue high-quality programming, rather than focus on high audience shares.

He further remarked that communication ”can play a fundamental role in our time in reweaving socially vital values such as citizenship and participation.”

Concluding, Pope Francis encouraged the Italian public broadcaster “to promote unity and reconciliation in the family and in society, listening and dialogue, to inform and also to listen, with respect and humility.” – Vatican News