Italian state broadcaster Rai, the country’s long-time film and TV industry driver, is trying to calm fears voiced by the country’s producers while navigating the coronavirus crisis amid increasing criticism and shrinking resources.
When the pandemic paralyzed the economy in Italy – which currently suffers the death toll from the world’s highest corona virus, above 16,500 – the giant broadcaster, which has more than 13,000 employees, has revealed that its overhaul of its long-standing organization and approval of the 2020 budget has been frozen.
Meanwhile, Rai’s rank was swayed by scrambling to reprogram the slots of more than 20 channels in the midst of requests to give a state prisoner audience to lock in more “culture” and “quality” programming, as veteran film director Pupi Avati (“Il Signer Diavolo “) put it in a recent open letter to the national daily Corriere della Sera.
In another appeal to Rai’s top management, last week the Italian indie documentary filmmaker. The doc voiced fears that, while publishers in other European countries “had committed to supporting independent production,” Rai instead “reduced,” their claim.
Producer Gianluca Curti, who heads the Italian indie producers association Cna, regrets that Rai’s complex reorganization and budget delays until the end of 2020 are “worrying” because this signifies that “even at a critical time when things start to return to normal, everything in Rai will still be hiatus. “
Actually, Rai is managing director Fabrizio Salini (photo, left) who is the former head of Fox International Channel, and head of drama Rai Eleonora Andreatta has been busy holding video meetings with producers and representatives of the Italian industry and “guaranteeing that they will provide the funds allocated,” said Giancarlo Leone, Rai’s former executive who heads the Italian TV producer organization. What.
Leone also pointed out that Rai had assured it “did not cut expenses” for dramas, entertainment shows and documents, which he said were “very positive.” And Rai’s production spending has remained unchanged despite the fact that broadcasters will surely suffer losses in 2020 advertising revenue.
Rai’s average intake from advertising is around € 650 million ($ 707 million) a year, meanwhile Rai’s annual drama budget is around € 190 million ($ 207 million).
Leone points out that between now and the end of 2020 “there will be big problems for Rai in terms of filling TV slots when it comes to drama” because many of the products they rely on “will not be delivered (on time).”
The script programming broadcast on Rai’s channel over the past month consisted mostly of reruns, with a few exceptions, such as the medical drama “Docs,” self-produced by Lux Vide, which at the end of March bowed to more than 26% of viewers in the main station share . Rai 1, marked the best debut of a new show in Italy this year.
Meanwhile broadcasters – who refused to comment on any of the appeals made – have stepped up the news division by setting up a “task force” to refute false news, which Salini on Rai’s talk show called “a poison that risks damaging both accurate information and social cohesion.”
President Rai Marcello Foa (pictured right) on Monday responded to Avati’s call for more “cultural” programming by announcing that Rai 1 would begin airing the “first” film that premiered on its first night twice a week, starting with Ron Howard “Pavarotti” Biopik.
And Leone said Salini had told producer Rai intending to broadcast more documentaries on his three main channels, even trying to find a primetime time slot for documents on Rai 1, which would become a watershed.
“Rai has a very constructive attitude,” said producer Agostino Sacca, a former executive of Rai, whose Pepito Productions are the shingle behind the recent Berlin prize winner “Bad Tales.”
The problem, Sacca and others point out, is that Rai has absolutely no resources to make up for losses due to the coronavirus crisis because he transitioned to being less tied to ad rank and revenue and serving as a complete public service broadcaster.
The Italian government has not allocated additional resources for Rai as part of its national corona virus rescue plan. And to make matters worse, the government has deducted € 15 ($ 16.30) from € 90 ($ 98.17) license fees paid by Italian households, which is the lowest licensing fee in Europe. License fees currently bring about € 1.7 billion ($ 1.8 billion) into issuer cash, which is a peanut compared to the bonanza License fees of more than $ 4.5 billion benefited by the BBC.
“Rai has the lowest license fee in Europe and the government gets a cut; that’s ridiculous! “regretted Sacca, who said Italian TV producers supported this.
Leone, who lobbied hard to get back at least € 100 million ($ 109 million) in government-pocketed license fee coins, said this money would be allocated for “non-commercial” public service-oriented content.
Getting the coin back for Rai will mean “revolution” said Sacca, who according to whom after the coronavirus crisis “only Rai can save the Italian audiovisual industry.”
“Platforms like Netflix and so on have disappeared, and we don’t know when they will return and how much they will invest when they do,” Sacca said, despite the fact that Netflix recently launched together € 1 million ($ 1.1) ) million) rescue fund for local film and TV producers together with the Italian film commission.
“The only certainty we have at the moment is Rai,” he said.
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