59. RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana Holding S.p.A.
Revenues 2014: € 2.535 billion
The RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) is the only public Italian radio and television broadcaster. Apart from the full programs by the private Mediaset-Group, RAI 1, RAI 2 and RAI 3 are Italy’s largest freely receivable terrestrial television channels. They constitute the core of the company together with the radio programs. Furthermore, the state-owned enterprise RAI is involved in satellite and cable television as well as being a pay-tv provider.
Viale Giuseppe Mazzini 14
00195 Rom, Italien
Legal Form: Private Company, state-owned
Financial Year: 01/01 - 12/31
Founding Year: 1924 (as URI), 1944 (as RAI)
- Antonio Campo Dall'Orto
- Monica Maggioni
- Giancarlo Leone, Rai 1
- Angelo Teodoli, Rai 2
- Andrea Vianello, Rai 3
- Roberto Nepote, Rai Gold
- Massimo Liofredi, Rai Ragazzi
- Mirella Marzoli, Rai News
- Silvia Calandrelli, Rai Cultura
- Piero Corsini, Rai World
- Carlo Paris, Rai Sport
- Nicola Sinisi, Rai Radio
- Flavio Mucciante, Rai Radio 1
- Paola Marchesini, Rai Radio 2
- Marino Sinibaldi, Rai Radio 3
- Danilo Scarrone, Canali Radio di Publicca Utilità
- Scipione Rosse, Rai GR Parlamento
- Mario Orfeo, TG1
- Marcello Masi, TG2
- Bianca Berlinguer, TG3
- Vincenzo Morgante, TGR
- Paolo Del Brocco, Rai Cinema
- Eleonora Andreatta, Rai Fiction
- Maria Pia Ammirati, Teche
Major Shareholders: Italian Ministry of Economy and Finances (99,56 %), SIAE - Società Italiana Autori ed Editori (0,44 %).
As early as 1910, the radio monopoly in Italy was conceded to the state by a royal decree. In When the fascists had been in power for two years in 1924, the URI (Unione Radiofonica Italiana) - the predecessor of RAI - obtained the exclusive right to transmit programs. The company was founded earlier with private capital. From the very beginning, the fascist regime exercised a strong influence on program and news and renamed the URI into EIAR in 1927. In 1935, the control over the radio is accomplished by subordinating the program to the supervision of the ministry for press and propaganda. The Italian state became an indirect shareholder for EIAR in 1933 already. After the end of the war in Italy in 1944, the station is once again renamed and now operates as Radio Audizioni Italia – RAI. Following the reconstruction of the destroyed transmitter facilities, the radio spread very quickly. In 1953, a staggering 4,5 million Italians tuned in to the radio program. The first television experiments start in 1952 with the transmission of Pope Pius XII’s Urbi et Orbi and the inauguration of the Milan fair. The official transmission begins on the 3rd of January 1954. From now on, the RAI abbreviation stands for Radiotelevisione Italiana. In subsequent years, the new permanent government party Democrazia Cristana (DC) succeeded in establishing radio as the mouthpiece of the government. Although a parliamentarian committee is supposed to ensure and control commensurate news coverage, the prime minister is still the firm authority standing between the ‘Commissione di vigilanza’ and RAI. Thus, the DC managed to maintain its influence. The RAI launched a regular television program in 1954.
There had been a high degree of continuity within the ruling political class Until the end of the first republic and the concomitant decline of the established party system in 1992-1994, despite the instable government. The state companies are subjected to a strong proportional representation (lottizzazione), something that turned out to be particularly valid for the RAI. The three big parties, Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democrats), PSI (Socialist Party) and PCI (Communist Party) keep an eye on their respective consideration within the system. The appointment of the news programs’ editors-in-chief is directly negotiated between the party headquarters. The result is a trinity of RAI stations that are aligned alongside the three most important parties – an Italian version of pluralism.
Despite various verdicts by the constitutional court, the clogged political system of Italy had been incapable of agreeing on a legal framework for the emerging private radio sector in the 1970s and 1980s. The result is the advent of private TV networks in an effectively lawless environment. Due to the fact that there are no laws regarding merger control and limitation of prevailing power in opinion making, the building developer Silvio Berlusconi from Milan was able to establish a near-monopoly in the private television sector with his Fininvest station-group (today a part of Mediaset). The latter grew into a fierce competitor for RAI. In 1990, 15 years late, the constitutional court finally managed to agree on the much needed media law. Named after the then-minister in charge, the ‘Legge Mammi’ merely constitutes the RAI/Fininvest duopoly, instead of facilitating competition. In the following years, two amendments of the radio law also affect the RAI: The Maccanino-law, agreed on by the Prodi government in 1997, results in the creation of the AGCom radio supervision authority. The authority watches over the adherence of RAI’s public contract. However, the market and opinion power of Fininvest/Mediaset remains untouched. In 2004, the government of media tycoon Berlusconi, prime minister since 2001, agreed on the Gasparri-law, which restructured the leadership structure of RAI. The top of the company was to be constituted by a nine-head strong board of directors. It took over a year for the members to be appointed due to long-lasting political struggles.
The term of Prime Minister Berlusconi from 2001-2006 translated to a whole new quality of political influence on national television. On top of that, the RAI suffered from a severe leadership crisis. The already meagre pluralism is further trimmed through a politically motivated personnel policy. The editors-in-chief at RAI Uno and RAI Due are replaced by trustiers of the ruling parties. Only RAI Tre can maintain a higher level of independence. But unpleasant journalists are sacked all over the place. Berlusconi delivers the prelude to muzzle-politics, when he publicly calls for the heads of presenters, who bear a critical disposition in April 2002. Shortly after, the ‘Sciuscià’ format, one of the few investigative RAI programs is cancelled without further explanation. The inconvenient presenter Michele Santoro disappears from the screen just like Enzo Biagi, Italy’s legend of journalism and a ‘voice of freedom’ (NZZ). Dozens of well-known and not so well known RAI employees have no other option but to do nothing. Prime Minister Berlusconi is accused of a conflict of interest: His personnel policies allegedly weaken the RAI for the benefit of his own stations. RAI president Lucia Annunziata steps down from her position as a protest against political interference. The settlement of her succession turns out to be a farce: The president’s chair remains vacant for a whole year, before it can be agreed upon that Claudio Petruccioli will become the new president. The change in leadership of the RAI is implemented in a similarly laborious fashion following Berlusconi’s return to power in 2008. After the expiration of the old mandate, it took nine month before a new board of directors could be appointed in March 2009.
The quality of the public radio programs has continued to decline over the last few years. Furthermore, according to critics, RAI can hardly be distinguished from the private stations anymore. The highly profitable competitor Mediaset still occasionally manages to snatch the ratings lead from the public station.
The struggle for control over the RAI was fought out with gloves off in the last couple of years, even though a direct interference in the public station by the government majority had been standard procedure long before Berlusconi’s appearance on the political stage. The amendment of the media law („Legge Gasparri“) in spring 2004 resulted in a reform of the RAI leadership structure. Now, a nine-head strong board of directors constitutes the top floor of the station. Seven of its members are appointed by a parliamentarian superintendent committee, two by the shareholder, the ministry for economy and finance. A president presides over the executive committee, who is comparable with the general manager of a German TV station. The opposition suggests the candidate for the position. It took nine month after the old board’s mandate expired to appoint a new RAI leadership. Finally, government and opposition agreed to send an outsider into the race and nominated Paolo Garimberti, former deputy editor-in-chief of the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica", for president. He is formally elected by the parliamentarian supervisors. The specific composition of the board reflects the political balance of power in the House of Representatives. Five of the nine members were appointed by the right-wing governmental camp, while two more were chosen by the finance minister himself, who is virtually the sole shareholder.
On top of that, the finance minister also nominates the general director. In spring 2009, Mauro Masi received the influential position. Masi had been the general secretary to Prime Minister Berlusconi prior to this engagement. Two years later, the loyal manager, who had been leading the station in a one-against-all manner, stepped down from his position. In a vote of confidence, only 77 out of 1438 participating RAI employees expressed their confidence in Masi. Lorenza Lei was chosen as successor in May 2011. The term of the board of directors and general director amounts to three years.
The RAI is financed through radio license fees, which account for 57% of takings, while another 35% are generated through advertising. The whole sum is rounded up with returns from licenses etc. The annual radio license fee was increased to 110,5 Euros in 2010. The fact that about 27% of households fail to pay the fee is a considerable financial problem for the public company. The station loses almost 500 million Euros in this manner per year. Every year, the parliament sets an upper limit for takings from advertising revenues. Due to the fact that the RAI is predominantly financed through radio license fees, the competition for advertising resources between public and private television is subject to this limitation. In early 2011, a mere 24% of the Italian TV advertising investments found their way to the public station group.
Around the centralised station group of free-TV with RAI Uno, RAI Due and RAI Tre, the station gathers an elaborate array of programs on offer: Rai Educational, GR Parlamento, Rai News 24, Rai Sport, Rai Internazionale, RAI Med, RAI Doc and Junior can be received digitally or via satellite. The pay-TV range includes Raisat Cinema, Raisat Extra, Raisat Premium, Raisat Smash, Raisat Gambero Rosso.
The free-TV in Italy struggles with the issue of declining audience numbers. In 2006, RAI lost 1,12% of its viewers, as compared to the previous year, while the private competitor Mediaset lost 0,6%. When it comes to effective viewer numbers, 2007 could turn out to be a black year for RAI. According to the newspaper „la Repubblica“ this might not only be due to the climate change but also related to the circumstance that the program induces yawning more than anything else. The Saturday evening show „Vietato Funari“ may still achieve an audience share of 10% but the interest from viewers, especially young people, decreases rapidly.
In the first half of 2007, the announced take-over of production company Endemol through the most important competitor of RAI, the Mediasat-group, kick-started a debate. It is feared that the result will be a ‘subtle privatisation’ of RAI, should the station-group continue to buy content from Endemol.
The Italian branch of the production company, Endemol Italia, currently produces the shows „Che Tempo che fa“ for Rai Tre and „Affari Tuoi“ for RAI Uno. „Affari Tuoi“ (Your Concern) is a game show that is being aired during the important Saturday Evening spot at 8.30pm and enjoys considerable success. In 2006, Endemol Italia provided more than 1600 hours of program for RAI and Mediaset as well as for La7.
In September 2007, the RAI announced investments in technical infrastructure, in order to extend their IP-TV product (Internet television). The RAI Internet-portal attracts 76 million clicks per month and is growing rapidly.
On top of the full national programs Radio Uno, Radio Deu and Radio Tre, the niche stations Isoradio, GR Parlamento and Giornale Radio were recently launched.
The RAI focuses its activities on the Internet to an incremental degree. The current issue of the major news program Telegiornale can be accessed online. Furthermore, the RAI offers several online services on top of an elaborate service and information division: The RAI Community Internet platform with forums and games, the RAIteche online archive as well as the citizens’ portal RAIutile for T-Learning and T-Government. The rai.it website also carries links to the parliament, ministries, consumer associations, governmental campaigns etc. More services: Italica (multi-lingual online platform by RAI Internazionale), RAI Click and RAI Net (Internet services), RAI per la cultura (Online cultural media-library)
RAI organises the marketing of its advertising time slots through subsidiary company SIPRA S.p.A. Depending on the production, the responsible divisions for sponsoring, licensing rights and distributions are RAI Cinema, RAI New Media and RAI Trade S.p.A. The distribution of productions in North America is an exceptionally important position and thus operated by the RAI Corporation. Further segments of the company are: Televideo (Teletext), RAI Way (Transmission Technology), Rai Eri (Publisher), Made in RAI (Merchandise) as well as the RAI Symphonic Orchestra.
the Open Society Foundations' Media Program,
Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education,
the Rudolf Augstein Foundation,
the city of Cologne, Germany,
and the State of Thuringia, Department of Commerce.