Berlusconi wants to reshape RAI

State broadcaster to become less political

ROME -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday that he wants to reshape state broadcaster RAI to make it less political and more focused on the needs of the public not already addressed by other broadcasters.

The move immediately sparked criticism from opposition lawmakers, who said the strategy would act to strengthen the position of Mediaset, RAI's main rival, which Berlusconi controls.

Berlusconi's timing for the changes at RAI would fit in with the broadcaster's reorganization plans, but the ideas were painted in only the broadest strokes. The prime minister said only that he will seek to make RAI "less political" and that he will encourage the broadcaster to schedule more cultural programming and programming that shows the "real Italy."

A RAI spokesman would not comment on the prime minister's role in the broadcaster's affairs.