Gov't taps new media watchdog, changes RAI management

ROME — The Italian government has appointed a new media watchdog and changed top management at pubcaster RAI as the post-Berlusconi media landscape takes shape.

Prime minister Mario Monti, elected in November, has picked Angelo Marcello Cardani, an economist who served on Monti’s staff when he was European markets commissioner in Brussels, to head TV and telco regulator Agcom.

Agcom plays a crucial role in Italy, where former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and pubcaster RAI have formed a duopoly dominating terrestrial TV for decades, each with an average 40% audience share.

Cardani will be in charge of the digital TV frequencies auction, which could open up the market, replacing Berlusconi appointee Corrado Calabro.

The government also announced that two execs with a banking background will lead RAI. Anna Maria Tarantola, formerly deputy director at the Bank of Italy, will serve as prexy with Luigi Gubitosi, a onetime Bank of America exec and former CEO of mobile phone operator Wind, as the pubcaster’s general manager.

They replace Paolo Galimberti and Lorenza Lei, respectively, both appointed during the Berlusconi era.

A radical restructuring of the mammoth pubcaster, which employs some 13,000 staff, is now likely. RAI’s budget was cut by $60 million this year, hitting drama production and forcing a near freeze on purchases of Hollywood product.

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