Italian state broadcaster RAI has appointed as its president Marinella Soldi, a former CEO of Discovery Networks Southern Europe, and designated as managing director Carlo Fuortes, chief of the Rome Opera House Foundation.

The planned management makeover was decided by the government headed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The two key appointments at the mammoth pubcaster still require approval by a parliamentary committee that oversees RAI, but are likely to pass this final hurdle.

If they do, Soldi will replace outgoing RAI president Marcello Foa, a journalist, while Fuortes will step into the role held by veteran TV exec Fabrizio Salini, who prior to running RAI held top posts at Fox International Channels and Sky in Italy.

Soldi, who turned Discovery from a small player into Italy’s third-largest linear broadcaster, left the company in 2018 to become president of the Vodafone Foundation, Italy, dedicating her management skills to socially impactful charities.

Soldi’s role as prospective RAI president is generally considered less hands-on than the managing director post to be held by Fuortes, an economist and respected manager in the Italian public cultural institutions space, who earlier this week called RAI Italy’s biggest producer of cultural content and said it was important that it continues to have that role. However, given Soldi’s experience in TV, it is likely that she will be a key decision-maker. 

Though streamers such as Netflix — which is believed to have 2.5 million subscribers in Italy — and Amazon are stepping up production in the country, RAI remains Italy’s main TV production driver in terms of scripted content, despite the fact that due to a COVID-19-related drop in advertising, its RAI Fiction unit in 2021 is estimated to be investing roughly €
30 million ($35 million) less compared with the roughly €180 million ($212 million) they invested in 2020. 

But RAI (it’s main building, pictured above) will continue to be the main investor in film and TV in Italy through at least the end of 2022, according to projections from the country’s TV producers’ association APA, which estimates that from 2023 the local content investment from OTTs in Italy will be equal, if not more, than the resources from RAI.

The pubcaster’s new management faces the tough task of overhauling and reshaping RAI for the digital age, implementing what is expected to be a draconian restructuring of the pubcaster which has more than 11,000 employees and unlike the BBC does not monetize much from international sales.