Predicts revs of $59 mil

ROME — Based on solid results in this year’s first quarter, RAI Trade is forecasting revenues in the region of $59 million for 1998, which would give the Italian pubcaster’s newly established commercial division an operating margin of $2.5 million and profits of just under $600,000.

The figures are 15% higher than those forecasted when the new structure was launched last fall. RAI Trade was established to consolidate RAI’s sprawling commercial activities, folding together film and audiovisual sales arm Sacis, music division Fonit Cetra, publishing branch Nuova Eri and other sales administration departments.

In 1997, the divisions now grouped together under the single RAI Trade banner posted collective losses of close to $15 million.

Managing director Tino Cennamo says the reduction of personnel from 230 to 65 employees — most of the excess reportedly was absorbed into other RAI departments — was key to whipping the new structure into better financial shape, as was the reorganization of various departments with overlapping functions into tighter, more focused units.

As predicted, feature film sales have become secondary to television product and sports rights for RAI Trade. But with the org now exclusively handling RAI or majority-RAI productions rather than also taking on product from other sources, Cennamo says the main problem has become that of finding enough titles to sell.

“We account for 2% of RAI’s revenues,” says Cennamo, pointing wistfully to the 15% of BBC income raised by the British pubcaster’s parallel structure, BBC Worldwide. “But because the demand for product that’s made in Italy is so high, in three years we can reach $147 million (in revenues).”

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