Italy moves to transform national TV

Italy's cabinet on Thursday began examining a corporate makeover of the country's public television service Rai, with the aim of curbing political interference and innovating cultural output.

Italy moves to transform national TV
The last Rai reform dates back to 1975. Rai TV photo: Shutterstock

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said a bill would be adopted at the next cabinet meeting, before going to a reading in parliament, and the aim was to transform the network into "one of the biggest cultural enterprises in Europe."

The bill would slim down the board of directors and reduce its powers, as well as see a government nominated CEO appointed, along with an employee-elected board member.

The public broadcaster, which relies on revenue from both a license fee and the sale of advertising time, has a long history of political affiliations.

The reform would see Rai Uno, Due and Tre (One, Two and Three) swap their political associations for identities based on content. In the past Rai Uno was linked to the Christian Democrats, Due to socialists and Tre to communists.

While under the new set-up Rai Uno would be a generalist channel, Rai Due would be devoted to innovation and Rai Tre to culture – and Renzi hopes the latter would be advertising free.

The reform-driven PM has promised to make the state-owned company Italy's "leading cultural industry" and "an actor on the international scene" worthy of competing with the BBC and Sky.

"We don't want to control Rai, we want to give it oxygen," he told journalists at a press conference.

The last Rai reform dates back to 1975, when control of the network passed into parliament's hands.

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?