RAI, former execs hit with fine

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ROME -- Six former officials at Italian state broadcaster RAI received two salaries during their employment, a breach that has resulted in hefty fines for the broadcaster and the individual officials.

The ruling Friday from the Communications Authority did not say why the officials were paid double their official salaries.

The officials -- all of whom were appointed by the government led by media mogul and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- left the company earlier this year when Berlusconi was narrowly defeated by Romano Prodi in an April vote.

The fine against RAI amounted to €14.3 million ($18.9 million). The officials were each fined the equivalent of one year's pay, but the only salary announced was that of former RAI director Alfredo Meocci, who earned €373,000 ($492,000) during his last year at RAI.

RAI declined comment on the ruling.

RAI and the former company officials will have 90 days to appeal the fines.

The Communications Authority's decision comes during a period of controversy in the sector. Berlusconi himself faces charges of corruption in a trial that began earlier this month. And Mediaset -- the broadcast giant Berlusconi controls and RAI's chief rival -- was fined €625,000 ($825,000) in November for breaching advertising limits allowed for film programing.
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