RAI set to pump funds into film

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ROME -- Italian state broadcaster RAI has earmarked an increase in funding for first-run films to be aired in primetime, under the terms of a new contract between the broadcaster and its content creators.

The agreement -- which must be renewed before the end of each year -- was announced on RAI's Web site late Monday. By Tuesday morning, the Italian media was noting the shift toward a greater emphasis on culture and fiction.

Minister of Culture Francesco Rutelli hailed the agreement as a step forward for Italy's oft-maligned television sector.

"There will be more space for culture in primetime," the minister said. "It is clear this is a continuation of the trend toward supporting Italian cinema and European cinema."

Rutelli said the Italian system will be increasingly modeled on the French system, in which "cinema is funded by the entire production chain, allowing everyone to get involved, from producers to viewers."

The development is in line with RAI's previously announced plans to focus on higher-quality programming, including plans to strip advertising from two of the broadcaster's three national networks by the end of 2009 so that they can develop programming without economic concerns.
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