RAI anticipates major losses for '09

Italian broadcaster says results will worsen before improving

ROME -- Italian state broadcaster RAI estimated that it would lose between 50 million and 70 million euro ($74 million to $103 million) this year, confirming that the broadcast giant has been hurt by the economic crisis.

General director Mauro Masi, who says he is sure he has continued support from the government despite the poor financial results, said the company has been hurt by weak ad sales and an erosion in the number of Italian paying the "canone" -- the annual fee paid by families with televisions used to support public television.

Masi said the results would get worse before they get better, with anticipated losses of as much as 150 million euro ($296 million), in part because of costs associated with World Cup coverage.