Pubcaster prexy says Berlusconi calls shots

Three of five-member board reject claims

ROME — How much sway does Italo prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi hold at pubcaster RAI ?

According to RAI’s exasperated prexy Lucia Annunziata, Berlusconi personally “picks up the phone to call board members to suggest appointments and influence their decisions about programming.”

Annunziata told reporters at Rome’s foreign press association Monday that Berlusconi — who controls commercial web Mediaset, RAI’s main rival — is “directly involved” in the pubcaster’s key management decisions, including hiring reporters.

“These are the explanations I am given unofficially to justify some of the decisions that are made,” said Annunziata, herself a former reporter. In particular, she cited the board’s recent rejection of journalist Ferruccio De Bortoli, a former Corriere della Sera editor, who was supposed to become a news commentator on RAI.

Three members of RAI’s five-member board — Giorgio Rumi, Francesco Alberoni and Marcello Veneziani, all of whom are considered close to Berlusconi’s conservative bloc — denied Annunziata’s allegation, which may trigger yet another management crisis at the pubcaster.

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