Sunday, July 23, 2006

Minister Gentiloni shares more thoughts on Rai's reorganisation

Paolo Gentiloni's initial thoughts on Rai's reorganisation - which I covered earlier this month, seem to have hardened. In an interview with the Corriere della Sera (reprinted here), Gentiloni suggests that Rai ought to have a rather complex structure. Rai is to remain a single company, but is to have three separate accounting units/subsidiaries:

  • One unit running two 'public service channels', with less advertising, funded by an increased licence fee

  • One unit running a 'commercial' channel, with more freedom to sell advertising space, not funded by the licence fee

  • One unit running the television transmitter network

The reorganisation is justified since necessary: "The EU has imposed separate accounting (of state aid to profit-making companies) on us. After much hunting, I found this requirement in the Commission's Communication on the Application of State Aid Rules to Public Service Broadcasting, para. 49. Of course, what Gentiloni fails to note is that this requirement has been incumbent on Rai since 2001.

Gentiloni's scheme seems comically awkward. How will Rai - no stranger to internecine battles - be able to avoid either (a) cross-subsidisation or (b) poaching of resources between wings of the company?

The potential for conflict even now is noted in Il Giornale, which comments on the appointments rumour-mill in Rai. Paolo Ruffini, currently director of RaiTre, moves to RaiUno; Giovanni Minoli takes his place at RaiTre. Yet Giornali views Minoli as bound to cause problems at RaiTre because of his "centralising nature", and Ruffini as bound to face problems at RaiUno, "spending 90% of his time managing the space demanded by Bruno Vespa, the autarchic pretensions of Bibi Ballandi,", and so on.

I've got a lot of time for Paolo Ruffini - when I interviewed him last year he responded thoughtfully and carefully to my questions in print - and also denied a lot of the things said about him by Sabina Guzzanti.

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