Silvio’s RAI Cronies On Way Out

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appointees at Italian pubcaster RAI soon will be forced out because of a new law that revamps selection of the RAI board.

The bill cleared Italy’s lower house Nov. 30, with all center and left parties voting for the law, while Berlusconi party Forza Italia and its neo-fascist ally Allianza Nazionale abstained.

The bill is expected to sail through the Senate for final aproval.

Big eight

The main change in the law is that RAI’s board will be made up of eight directors, instead of the current five, with four appointed by the majority in Parliament and four by the opposition. Currently the board is appointed by the majority, a provision pushed through by Berlusconi in 1994 to rid RAI of his political foes.

The eight directors will then elect a president-CEO within 14 days. Heads of all RAI channels, news and other departments will have to be confirmed by the board within 15 days or be fired.

Mieli in line

Barring unexpected developments, RAI president Letizia Moratti, a friend of Berlusconi’s, will resign later this month or in January. Possible nominees for the top position in RAI already are circulating, including former Fininvest CEO Franco Tato and daily newspaper Corriere della Sera editor Paolo Mieli.

Separately, the current RAI board Nov. 30 approved the 1995-97 financial plan, which reported substantial improvement. In 1995, RAI is expected to post a net profit of $40 million compared with earlier estimates of $17.2 million and $11.7 million in 1994. Overall indebtedness will be reduced to $392 million, from the $677 million originally predicted.

RAI also will cut 1,350 jobs to 10,450 by the end of 1997.

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