The Vatican Television Centre’s (CTV) 30th birthday has already been and gone and it is celebrating the occasion with a convention in Rome on 18 October and a message from the Pope.
In his message Francis urges those who work in the unique world of Vatican television to be “pilgrims of communication”.
He drew attention to the “unexpected” technological evolutions of the past 30 years and the need to create relationships between people and with other media.
Above all, CTV helps the Pope bring the Gospel to the “sophisticated technological peripheries”, offering virtual and up-to-date information on the social contexts the Pope has spoken about on so many occasions
The convention was a chance to look back at what CTV has accomplished so far and an opportunity to announce technical initiatives. For example creating an online video archive made possible through the Centre’s partnership with Sony.
A precise time frame for this has not yet been given and it not yet known when the archive will be available to scholars and experts.
Journalists, television experts and monsignors gathered in Rome this Friday morning for the celebration of CTV’s 30th anniversary. Aldo Grasso, a university professor and television critic for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera ran through the history of CTV, right from the initial idea of documenting the Pope’s activities through images of the papal audiences and live broadcasts of events.
These skyrocketed and required continuous technological updates, television cameras and a lot of staff. CTV broadcasts weekly television news programmes and daily online news videos on the Pope’s activities. Catholic television broadcasters across the five continents have developed tighter collaborations over the years.
Aldo Grasso poured praise on CTV, remarking that “over the course of the past 30 years this television structure has matured and become essential for people’s understanding of the Church today and not only.”
The Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi who was director of CTV from 2001 to January 2013 remarked on the professionalism and dedication of cameramen, the television camera being a tool that requires special skill.
The current director, Dario Edoardo Viganò, emphasised that “multimedia is the future”. Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and of the Vatican Television Centre's Administrative Council, agrees: a greater synergy needs to be created between CTV and other Vatican media and the vast ocean of the web needs to be explored because that is where so many people get their information from.
The Church has a duty to be present on the web.
CTV has just 22 people who are responsible for filming, researching, archiving and producing live coverage of the Pope’s activities (365 days a year). This is one of the miracles of Church bodies.
When access to the archives is finally opened, there are sure to be some surprises. Fr. Viganò insinuated this, in a comment about a confidential section of the archive which documents the more personal aspects of Popes’ public lives (John Paul II’s suffering for example), not to mention various backstage moments.
“Both public and private moments” of various pontificates have been captured on more than 20 thousand video cassettes, Viganò said. Although locating the material needed will not be hard, we will still have to wait for the archive to be digitised and it is not known how long this will take. CTV will soon be enhancing the quality of its broadcasts by adopting Ultra High Definition television.