A separation of RAI and state?


ROME -- The Italian government on Monday unveiled a plan that would split state broadcaster RAI into three separate units in a way that would make them virtually free of political influence and less involved with commercial concerns.

The ambitious plan, developed by Minister of Communications Paolo Gentiloni, would radically change Italy's broadcast landscape.

Coming on the heels of a previously announced plan to make two of three RAI networks commercial-free, the new strategy goes even further, ostensibly freeing all three networks of political influence by having them answer to an autonomous seven-person foundation appointed to six-year terms by parliament.

Under the plan, RAI would be split into three entities, including one that would control the transmission of all three networks. That company would have a contract with the other two companies: one of which would operate two commercial-free networks funded by tax money and license fees, with the other controlling a commercial network funded by ad revenue.

"This plan is about guaranteeing RAI's autonomy from the government of the day, whatever its makeup is," Gentiloni said in a statement. "To reach that goal, RAI must no longer be owned directly by the treasury and answerable to the prime minister."

RAI has been political in nature ever since its founding in 1954 and its networks have often been seen as mouthpieces for the ruling parties.