Italy's RAI Requests Extension of Television Fee to Computer Owners

The annual "canone" obligation currently requires TV owners to pay a fine for each household set.

ROME – Troubled Italian state-owned broadcaster RAI on Tuesday asked the government to extend responsibility for paying the annual “canone” obligation television owners have to owners of personal computer and tabletPCs.

The “canone” is a fee charged to help support RAI each year. In 2011, it was €112 ($147) for a household’s first television set, and less for subsequent televisions. Now the company, which is struggling to climb out of debt, says the “canone” obligation should be extended to owners of computers and tablets that can be used to stream the broadcaster’s content.

RAI has tried in the past to have the “canone” extended to computers but has been denied.

It was not immediately clear how much RAI believed that computer and tablet owners should be required to pay in order to support RAI’s activities.

RAI has struggled to make ends meet in recent years, and recent government austerity measures have forced the company to make some unpopular decisions, such as closing its storied New York offices and to mull closing down its RAI International unit all together.

RAI, the country’s oldest broadcaster, is currently Italy’s third leading broadcaster in terms of revenue, trailing Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset networks, and Sky-Italia, a satellite broadcaster. But the company, which employs 13,000 and is €200 million ($262 million) in debt, remains a key player on the Italian media stage.