This contribution explores the matches between fruition and contents of television programs on environmental and energy issues, and the implementation of sustainable behaviors in everyday practices in Italy.

Environmental issues related to energy production and consumption are in fact largely recognized by Italian authorities and have been institutionalized in a set of norms, incentives and goals (e.g. the 2020 package). These policies lead to a steep increase in the use of renewables in Italy, making it a ‘realising community’. Yet, in order to foster a veritable change toward being a ‘sustainable community’, new practices should be developed together with new environmental sensitiveness and consciousness (i.e. environmental concerns, information and values). Communication plays a central role in leading towards one or the other typology of community. The problem related to communication and representation of environmental and energy in Italy issues lies, first of all, in the way these are presented to the audience. In the narratives frames of Italian media, in fact, the energy thema is mainly treated in connection with critical moments such as episodes of maladministration (such as organized crime infiltration in wind farms construction), natural disasters (such as the earthquake in Japan in 2011), or political crises (such as the Referendum on nuclear hold in 2011). Environmental communication thus often assumes complaint, alarmist and catastrophism forms in Italy. This may result in the crystallization of concepts and may generate confusion and bewilderment in citizens who require tools to size up independently and consciously information. Yet, mainstream media could also mediate between discourses provided by different sources, they may reconstruct the meaning of scientific knowledge, institutional choices and individual practices, so playing an educational role to non-experts, stimulating social learning processes and consciousness about environmental issues.

In this scenario, main aim of this research is to outline the relationship existing between information needs on energy issues, public perception of authoritativeness of the media, and implementation of practices in line with a sustainable lifestyle. In particular, we focus on the role played by television because, although this medium partially lost its authority and appeal, television still manages to intercept a substantial part of the Italian public (according to data Censis 2013, in 2012 the total TV users are the 98.3% of the Italian population). A convenience sample of N=150 participants answered an online survey on perceived importance for the self and for the society of environmental and energy issues, practices of media consumption, expectations about the packaging of environmental and energy issue, need for information on the issues at stake, and the adoption of energy sustainable practices. Preliminary results suggest that – although together with online newspapers – TV remains the most important source of information about environmental and energy issues. The language used by the TV programs on energy issues is perceived mainly as alarmist (30.8% of respondents), educational (21.2%), or technical/scientific (15.1%). Catastrophic language is linked with the perception that the issue has been discussed in a poor and uncompleted way, whereas the educational language is perceived more adequate.