RAI to offer up to 12-13 thematic channels

From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Italian public broadcaster RAI is planning to relaunch its offer of thematic channels, as part of a project that will be presented to the General Director and the Board of Directors by the end of the year.

Speaking on the margins of the Prix Italia in Turin, Deputy Director General, Giancarlo Leone, said that they are considering the launch of Rai 5 and Rai 6 that could take the place of two existing thematic channels (possibily RaiSat Extra and RaiSat Premium). According to him, Rai 5 could be an entertainment channel or movie channel devoted to Italian and European movies.

Out of RAI's current thematic channel offer – Rai 4, Rai News 24, Rai Sport Più, Rai Gulp, Rai Storia, the four RaiSat channels (Cinema, YoYo, Extra and Premium) and Rai Scuola – "some of them will be confirmed, while others could be changed", said Leone. Overall, RAI will not surpass the limit of 12-13 thematic channels, due to the 20% limit of digital TV channels imposed by law and budgetary constraints. The broadcaster is also planning to launch a High Definition channel.

In a related development, RAI's international unit, NewCo Rai International, is working on four new TV channels. Young Italia would focus on "the excellence of young Italians", including those who live abroad, while Food would promote Italian cuisine. Africa News would be a network distributing news and images from Africa, on the model of Euronews. A third, yet unamed channel, would be dedicated to immigration, presenting the opportunities and problems faced by immigrants in Italy.

NewCo Rai International currently produces a total of five international channels – Raitalia, Rai News 24, Salute, Yes Italia and Rai Med (which is in the process of being relaunched).

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