David de Jong reports: Rai International, the international division of Italian public broadcaster Rai, and the Italian government have signed a new convention about the future of Rai International. The document was signed at a ceremony last Thursday by Rai President Claudio Petruccioli, together with Piero Badaloni, Managing Director of Rai International, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.
Romano Prodi declared that the new convention is a great step forward in a globalised world. Under the new convention, Rai International can create an international news channel in addition to the main Rai International channel. Rai International will be broadcast for the first time in Europe, and will also be available to Italians in Italy through satellite, although they are not the target of Rai International.
A few of Rai International’s own productions will also be shown on Rai Uno/Rai Due/Rai Tre in Italy as ‘return information’. Launch dates for the European channel and the news channel have not yet been announced. It is also not known if the European channel will replace Rai Uno on cable systems where there is only space for one Rai channel.
Piero Badaloni, who since joining Rai International has been building a plan to revamp the international services of the Italian broadcaster, also stated that he wants to make Rai International a point of reference for the new generation of Italians in South America. From the start of the new season (September/October) Rai International will focus more on the younger generation, after years of programming aimed at the older generation.
The convention replaces old conventions which previously were separate agreements for the radio and television departments of Rai International. In total Rai International will have an annual budget of 35 million euros for its TV services.
(Source: several Italian news reports)