Italian public broadcaster RAI is in turmoil. It has emerged that some 900 staff at the radio and television operator have political affiliations “to which they owe their appointments” according to newspaper Libero. A judge at a recent defamation trial stated that even the most meritorious individuals are favoured by their acquaintanceships in political circles”.
The political ties are a hangover from the days when RAI deliberately favoured political bias and allocated its three main channels to a different political grouping. RAI Uno was “controlled” by the Christian Democrats, RAI Due favoured the socialists and, as recently as 1979 RAI 3 was influenced by the communists. Even though these ‘affiliations’ came to an end in the 1990’s but the political friendships continued.
Indeed, RAI has also deliberately favoured a highly competitive internal supply of news and current affairs. Reportedly RAI still maintain 11 different newsrooms across TV and radio, and encourages a lack of co-operation.
The 2012-appointed Director General, Luigi Gubitosi, was given the task of streamlining RAI and has attempted to model the ‘new RAI’ on the BBC – an organisation not without its own problems – but where senior staff would be trimmed and responsibilities amalgamated. In the process, and reported by The Economist newspaper, the number of deputy editorships would tumble from 32 at – at most – 12 despite a Parliamentary plan that promised to maintain the editorial integrity of individual newsrooms.
Gubitosi says his plan depends on the Italian government’s approval, but he wants political parties to be removed from RAI.