This article examines the launch of the Tribuna elettorale and Tribuna politica programmes on Italian television (1960–1961), seen in the context of the country's broadcasting history and the changes in the political spectrum and governing alliances at that time. The changing face of political communications and leader–viewer relations may be the most interesting side to the Tribune, but also the most heavily studied. This article chooses instead to reconstruct the steps and reasons that led prime minister Fanfani in the autumn of 1960 to force through his decision to give all political parties airspace for political propaganda. The article argues that the Tribune programmes were only partly innovatory, a kind of ‘revolution that never was’. They were a first step towards democratising the public broadcasting corporation, but maintained firm links with the past and above all sought to legitimiste ‘government television’, as well as delaying structural reform of the medium in the face of mounting pressure on many sides. For the Christian Democrat (DC) and the RAI management, the Tribune programmes were a clever compromise solution, giving in terms of pluralism of information what they were not prepared to concede in terms of pluralism of management.