Italy’s RAI plans English-language channel

Italy’s RAI is planning to launch its first English-language TV channel in 2018.

The initiative comes courtesy of the new Service Contract whose draft has been adopted by the Italian public broadcaster, following negotiations with the Ministry of Economic Development.

According to daily La Repubblica, the new 24-hour channel will be distributed globally and will present Italy to a foreign audience. The schedule will include news bulletins, documentaries and sports programmes.

RAI will also have to buy more original programming from independent producers, for a total of €2 million in 2018 (€3 million from 2019 and increasing in the following years).

In addition, RAI will have to make available, in the name of ‘technological neutrality’, all its TV channels to satellite broadcasters such as Sky Italia. The pay-TV platform will have to pay a fee for the broadcasting of the public service channels.

RAI will have to free up the 700 MHz band by 2022, currently used to transmit some of its main terrestrial TV channels, for mobile telephony and Internet services. Other obligations include the subtitling of at least 80 per cent of TV programmes and the elimination of advertising on children’s’ content.

The Service Contract should enter into force in January 2018 and will be valid for five years.

Meanwhile, RAI reported a 3.8 per cent drop in TV licence fee revenues in the first half of 2017, to €35.4 million. In the same period, ad revenues were down by 8.2 per cent, to €30.6 million.

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