For many reasons, I fondly recall this date. Perhaps it was because it brings back memories of my youth; or because it marked the start of my little media adventure; or perhaps it was because on that day, the HISTORY (the one written in bold and all caps) of Commercial Television in Italy started.
Yes, it is true that even before this date, there had been many so-called “Freedom TV” broadcasting, but what was born on 03.11.1977 was the seed of what would become a colossal business, the first real Italian private television company.
From studios in Legnano, near Milan, Antenna Tre Lombardia begun its official broadcasts. At the helm were the pioneers Renzo Villa, Enzo Tortora, Enzo Gatta, Cino Tortorella and many other unsung heroes of the Italian TV revolution.
That is was a bona fide television company was evident in the size and quality of the investment: five studios, including one with 1000 seats; 12 broadcast cameras; 3 control rooms equipped with a multieffect video mixer; 2 Ob vans (though in truth never used); video recording facilities on Ampex AVR2 complemented by state of the art electronic editing EC2; and the best men, talents and directors.
Such a large investment in personnel and equipment all to serve a market yet to be invented, a market that was non-existent. A few years later, a man the world knows as Silvio Berlusconi co-opted the road these pioneers paved and built an empire on the market assumptions and on the foundation that we have created.
I was just a teenager then, already interested in media and taking whatever courses in video shooting and photography I could find offered by with the few professionals available.
For me and for many others, Antenna Tre served another purpose: it became the training ground for a generation of professionals who literally invented a new economic sector, with new opportunities and markets.
It was the beginning of a beautiful adventure, a shared dream we all contributed to. Each day brought with it the challenge and the exhilaration of thinking up new programs, creating new formats and schedules in a new television language that was more direct and connected better with the audience.
If anything, this was the secret to Antenna Tre’s success: everything started from the audience. What the people wanted, Antenna Tre delivered: whether it was the need for novelty or color in place of black and white television programming. Renzo Villa's great insight was to understand this and, above all, to understand that new products needed to be seen by people.
And we were all there, not minding the 16-hour days, but meeting the emerging demands of an Italy that was moving from the dark and sad late 70s into modernity.
Perhaps without realizing it, we were catalysts that have, for better or worse, hastened the transformations that have since marked our history as Italian citizens. If there exists a modern and active media and communication sector in Italy today, perhaps it is also thanks to us who pioneered a new kind of TV.
I am really proud of this accomplishment, of this life mission that I’ve chosen. Thank you to all of my friends who have accompanied me in this adventure: Non dimenticherò mai.
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