“Of course there is every reason to feel good, the results of Mondadori 2021 are really excellent. But it’s hard to celebrate in such a dark moment, between a historic pandemic and a war as fierce as it is ridiculous. The best response is to continue to do our job well. Because, believe me, I say this without any naivety and without any rhetoric, in a war like the one imposed on us by Putin, even culture, even books can play its part.” In light of the assembly called on April 28 to approve the 2021 accounts of Mondadori Marina Berlusconi, President of the Publishing House and Fininvest, talks about the results of the company but, like everyone, always has the horror of the massacres in front of her Ukraine. However, he also notes the effects of the war, which, on the one hand, is turning into serious repercussions for the economy and for the way the practice of Business, on the other hand, he says, “the responsibilities of the publisher are increasing”.
Anyway, in the meantime, I’m coming home over a positive year…
“Actually, the accounts for 2021 are very good. Increased revenue and margins, a profit of 44 million makes us return to dividends for the first time in ten years. And if we do not think about the acquisitions made in 2021, the important investments starting with De Agostini Scuola, Our debt, which exceeded 360 million in 2013, no longer exists today. In fact, we will have liquidity of 37 million. This will be the first time in 15 years. ”
Recent acquisitions confirm that Mondadori’s turning point on the books is final.
“It was precisely our strategic line, going back to the core business of books, that allowed these results and restored this solidity, obviously without diminishing the interest in development in the digital world. In 2012, books accounted for only a quarter of our revenue, while today it’s three-quarters and, above all, produces more than nine-tenths of the margins. We’ve invested heavily in books, but in less than ten years our profits have quadrupled. We do not intend to stop here.”
“While participating in the great European TV gatherings, my brother Pierre Silvio and his team continue to do a really great job. In 2021, Mediaset’s profits doubled to 374 million. The timelines are rich and the ratings interact very well. The first quarter of 2022 will be the seventh consecutive growth in advertising revenue. In short, it is clear that in the face of the catastrophes of the pandemic, our group has responded very well. But now the challenge has become more complex.”
With the war, the picture worsened dramatically. Are your predictions for 2022 changing too?
“Our estimates were and are still positive at the moment, even if before Russia’s attack we have to face the increase in energy and raw materials costs, such as paper. As always, we will do our best on these issues, but I hope the government, which has done good things for culture in this pandemic, will also want to play an active role. Unfortunately today the impact of the war cannot be calculated. From an economic point of view, keep in mind, the impact on all other levels becomes more and more frightening with each passing day. The indelible scars will remain.”
What worries you the most as an entrepreneur?
“The ambiguity of the future. At first we thought the jump in energy and commodity prices would end in fire, but now that’s no longer the case. All in all, it looks like inflation will continue. Not to mention financial volatility, insecurity about interest rates, or declining globalization, which today is driving many products back into Europe and Italy from low-cost markets. It is a generalized collapse of certainty that imposes difficult choices, complex turns, new ways of production on companies. Who can say whether all these changes will be temporary, stable, and final? We as publishers feel an extra weight.”
“Every entrepreneur should always think about his accounts, the society in which he operates, the quality of the product … However, the publisher has an additional responsibility because it produces culture and values, which these days are the antibodies against authoritarian and illiberal forces. If you succeed in the comparison. , it’s a bit like we’re the immune system to democracy. That’s why, as a publisher, I find field choice inevitable.”
Would you like to wear the helmet on the culture, too?
“Of course not. I know very well that in any human matter, good and evil are not found in only one side, both have reasons for inference and error for complaint. But the distinctions which I often hear make it seem absurd or useful. Here we cannot but remain on one side: On the side of an attacking people and the values of the democratic world to which it belongs, and against an aggressor who has already declared war on the entire West, on its identity and culture.
But culture, and therefore also a publishing house like Mondadori, by its nature should not take into account all the rumors?
In fact, no one is going to censor anyone. I’m not saying that poor Dostoevsky, who, moreover, Putin had already been buried for life in Siberia. But even more than hints supporters of the reasons for the invaders. So what then, there’s no point in going around it, in fact over appreciating Putin that they hate the West, starting with the United States. What I mean, without addressing the editorial choices that must remain free and free, is that today more than ever we need to take a stand in favor of our common values, and the culture upon which they are based. We must rediscover our pride.”
An intense programme, General de Gaulle would say…
“I quote, answer another general, Pericles of Athenian, who was familiar with democracy and wars. One of his words has stayed in my mind since high school: He said that the secret to happiness is freedom, but the secret to freedom is courage. Here, I think we must have the courage to make coherent choices, the courage to tell the Four Winds – and the role of culture in this is fundamental – that the Western system based on freedom and democracy will have a thousand limitations and flaws, but it certainly has other advantages, starting with the fact that it can even be criticized cruelly without the risk of ending up in prison. Is it the same in Moscow and Beijing? Putin has just banned what was a historic post-Soviet achievement, the right to equality between Stalinism and Nazism, which in other words means the right to denounce all forms of totalitarianism. In Russia this can no longer be done, otherwise you risk going to prison. ”
It took a month before his father decided to indict Putin.
“My father did and said the right things at the right time. Her position has always been clear. Witness the vote condemning the invasion in the European Parliament, or the support of the Draghi government’s pro-Atlantic policy. Or the foresight that for many years made him a staunch supporter of the need for a common union army and foreign policy. , and the first to denounce the dangers of Chinese new imperialism and Russia’s embrace. Let us also remember that, as Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi was able to persuade Putin and George W. Bush to sign the Pratica di Mare twenty years ago, a prerequisite for Russia’s accession to NATO. If it were possible Continuing on this path, we may not be here today talking about war. The truth is that the West lost ground in these twenty years. Today it risks losing its soul.”
It is clear that the West is in trouble. But in the face of the Russian invasion, the United States and Europe are so far united.
“But the war shattered an illusion: besides being unexportable, as some had hoped, democracy and its accomplishments are in no way an acquired inheritance, a natural right always and in any case at our disposal. Rather, it is a fragile thing, which must be defended every day with teeth and nails. by those who compare them on the outside but also by those who, more or less consciously, undermine their foundations from within.”
Doesn’t that seem too daunting to you, like a West weak and threatened on all fronts?
“Excuse me, but in the face of Putin’s imperial nostalgia, or Chinese expansionist gluttony or Islamic terrorism, which fights our system in different ways, what has the free world done? For a long time he was limited to stuttering, prey to incomprehensible nodules. On the contrary, he has done worse: he has discovered that he is the cause of all evil, and has begun to treat his history, ban pieces from his culture, and flog himself to atone for the sins he knows.”
Well, our history also consists of unprecedented violence, bloodshed and exploitation.
“And who denies it? But every culture is the daughter of its own history, for all its history. This cannot be sifted, keeping only the things we love. Just as the sacred protection of minorities cannot be transformed into a dictatorship for these same minorities. Here is the culture of cancellation: the demonstration – alas – The staunch enemy of the West eventually became precisely the West.”
This is not the first time she has criticized the culture of cancellation. What responsibilities do you have in this war?
“I don’t want to exaggerate except cancel ثقافة culture Acting like a fifth column, it attacks our cultural heritage and freedom of thought and expression from within. Faced with this dangerous alternative to political correctness, as a publisher, I feel an additional responsibility. As a publisher and also as a mother.”
Why also as a mother?
Burning our history, and thus our identity, makes our children dangerously fragile: unlike us, who must have the tools to defend ourselves from this fundamentalist rage, they are more isolated, they risk growing without understanding this clash of values and without fully realizing the importance of the ideals that established our democracies. Above all, they risk getting used to the idea of a less free society. It is a future which I myself reject. For this reason also I am convinced that defending our principles requires a clear and decisive choice of field. We owe it to ourselves, but owe it more to our children.”