RAI unites film functions

New company likely to include private partners

MILAN — Italian pubcaster RAI will soon launch an umbrella structure unifying the film production, distribution and acquisition activities of the network in a stand-alone company separate from the TV business. RAI prexy Roberto Zaccaria and director general Pierluigi Celli unveiled the move Monday in Florence.

The new company will probably include private partners, but the final decision is in the hands of the RAI board, meeting in the next few weeks.

In 1999, the public network doubled its investment for the acquisition and production of films to about $110 million, while overall expenditure for programming will reach $280 million by the end of the year. RAI will invest $40 million for Italian projects this year, up from $14 million in 1998.

The launch of a new film company is part of the sweeping reorganization RAI launched last year, which included the creation of RAI Trade, the umbrella structure for TV production, distribution and sales.

RAI Trade is expected to be the first RAI unit to go public.