The Italian Almanac

Michele Santoro

RAI on a Diet

RAI will soon show the pay of the presenters and guests on its shows in their closing credits in a bid for greater transparency about how Italy's public broadcaster uses its finances. RAI is funded by an obligatory viewers' licence fee and controversies frequently rage about the money it spends to attract top personalities to its programmes.

The reported pay of the hosts and stars hired every year for the Sanremo Song Festival rarely fails to raise complaints and the new move comes after a furore over a multi-euro pay-off for the presenter of a RAI talk show. The hullabaloo escalated to such a degree that Michele Santoro, the presenter of Annozero, pulled out of the deal to quit the show in exchange for the chance to produce different kinds of programmes

These sorts of rows are unlikely to end, but taxpayers will at least know the real figures from now on instead of numbers reported by the media after the move to have pay shown on credits won bipartisan approval at the RAI's parliamentary watchdog. "I'm enormously satisfied," said Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta. "This guarantees the necessary requirements for the great transparency operation that I had frequently requested for RAI and I'm happy that it won unanimous support".

The government then set its sights on RAI salaries, approving at a cabinet meeting an amendment to its austerity package to cope with the economic crisis that will trim the pay of big earners at the broadcaster. Salaries of more than 90,000 euros will be cut by five percent between 90,000 and 150,000 euros and by ten percent for any income over 150,000, according to government sources.

"In a time of crisis, it's right that everyone does their bit and that's why we've put RAI on a diet too," said Simplification Minister Roberto Calderoli, who proposed the cut.