RAI International May Be Forced to Close

In a letter to newly installed Prime Minister Mario Monti, company says is it is "in dire financial straits."


ROME – RAI International, the worldwide version of Italian state broadcaster RAI, could be in danger of closing as of Jan. 1, 2012 because of government budget cuts, the directors of the company said.

In an article published in La Repubblica Friday, a letter from RAI International editors, journalists, and administrators to newly installed Prime Minister Mario Monti said the company was in dire financial straits.

“We are a direct thread every day to millions of Italians abroad and an indispensable instrument for the diffusion of Italian language and culture in the world,” the letter said. “And it could stop the first of January, 2012.”

The letter called on Monti to free up funding in order to assure RAI International would be able to continue to broadcast.

Monti was sworn in as the head of a new technocratic government Nov. 16, four days after predecessor Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign amid personal and political scandals and the growing reach of the European debt crisis. Monti has vowed to dramatically reduce Italy’s debt in order to assuage investor fears the country could be forced to default, and he has said every Italian resident will suffer from his emergency moves but that the pain will be “spread evenly.”

Piece by piece, Monti has been putting into effect a series of government revenue enhancements, spending cuts, and measures aimed at jump-starting economic growth.

As the head of an appointed technocratic government, Monti is charged with passing sometimes difficult economic and political reforms ahead of new elections that will selected a new elected government. He has said he expects to stay in power for the remaining time left in Berlusconi’s term, which was scheduled to conclude in 2013.

Monti’s office had no immediate response to the letter from RAI International, which exists with a budget paid for in part by advertising and in part from government contributions.