Thursday, July 13, 2006

RAI DG Cappon assembles team

Rai's Administrative Council yesterday made three key appointments: Giancarlo Leone was made vice-director general, Lorenza Lei, head of TV Resources; and Nicola Claudio, chief of staff to the Director-General. Leone was formerly head of RaiCinema, and had been considered for the job of director-general before in 2002 (source: Bruno Vespa, Rai: la Grande Guerra).

Leone is an excellent choice. First, he and Cappon enjoy working with each other; Cappon appointed Leone head of Rai's old Division One (RaiUno, television resources) when he was director-general in 2001, and told me that he thought Leone "intelligent, competent", and a "good political one":
"he has the skills that are needed there. He doesn't breathe oxygen - he has adaptive lungs!"
Leone was also rated highly by that other 'technocratic' Rai DG, Pierluigi Celli, who had hoped to appoint Leone as director of RaiUno in 2000 (source: Vespa, ch. 12).

Leone is also an excellent choice because he has bipartisan support. As a son of a Christian Democrat President of the Republic, Leone has good contacts amongst democristiani: Vespa described him as close to "Letta, Casini and Follini" amongst the current UDC leaders. Yet Leone also has contacts on the left, and, perhaps crucially, was not in a highly visible post during the period of the Berlusconi government. He was not, therefore, known as 'gradito alla destra', and so is not 'burnt' in the eyes of the left.

Here, though, is a danger for Leone. Whilst government pressure is rarer under centre-left governments, Rai is subject to different political pressures during such periods. That is, Rai occasionally has problems dealing with its internal left-wingers at RaiTre, who, when 'bipartisan' appointments are made, claim that Rai is witnessing a 'return of the democristiani', who - one presumes - will impose a traditional Christian Democrat morality on television output. (Company union Usigrai has sometimes made this complaint, though I can't find any examples at present).

Thus, Leone must show himself not just centrist - as are many democristiani - but also bipartisan, and, to the extent possible, also apartisan. BBC executives are bipartisan in the sense that they enjoy broad political contacts across the left-right spectrum; but they are apartisan in that these political contacts in no way structure their choices over television or radio output.

Update: Tvpolitik also judges Leone's appointment 'una bella mossa'

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