Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dissent within Rai CdA rumbles on

For some weeks now, Rai Administrative Councillor Angelo Maria Petroni, one of the right-wing members of the Administrative Council, has been threatening to resign. Petroni, along with Chairman Claudio Petruccioli, was nominated by the Italian Treasury in 2005 under the centre-right government, and confirmed by the parliamentary committee which supervises Rai.

Petroni's resignation threat causes a major legal and political headache. The law which governs appointments to Rai's administrative council, the so-called Gasparri law, says that, should a council member resign, his or her replacement shall be appointed in the same way he or she was originally nominated. Thus, should Petroni resign, the Treasury would be entitled to nominate another member of its choosing, subject to confirmation by two-thirds majority from the parliamentary committee.

This is the legal situaton. Politically, Petroni's resignation would cause problems for Petruccioli. It seems unlikely that the Treasury would be willing to accept a council member acceptable to the centre-right members of the committee. Conversely, it seems unlikely that the centre-right members of the committee would be willing to accept any council member nominated by the Treasury, for even if that person was free of the slightest hint of partisan bias, their nomination by the Treasury would instantly taint them as such.

Thus, in order to broker compromise, the Treasury would have to nominate a replacement for Petroni - and for Petruccioli. Only this way would both sides feel as if they had protected their patch of political turf within Rai.

(This, at least, is how I understand it. I cannot understand the claim made in Legno Storto, that: "should Petroni leave, the balance introduced by the Gasparri law forsees the appointment of an opposition Chairman").

The enforced resignation of two members of the CdA would be bad for Rai. It would rob Rai of managerial and/or supervisory expertise: Petroni has previous experience of serving on Rai's administrative council, and Petruccioli seems quite competent as Chair. More importantly, enforced resignation would reinforce the belief that Rai must be subjugated to changing political balance.

How then best to deal with Petroni's resignation, should it arrive? One modest proposal is that the Treasury should nominate a single person, but make the process so open and transparent that the centre-right can't possibly object. So:
  • Publish a job advert in all major newspapers
  • Contract a head-hunting firm to solicit applications
  • Get the head-hunting firm to draw up a limited shortlist of no more than three
  • Choose from this shortlist, and publish the names of those not chosen.

I think that would help. But political hay can be made even under a pale sun when in Italy.

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