Pier Silvio Berlusconi: “If Rai behaves like a commercial TV station it is bad for TV and for the country”

The Mediaset CEO to ‘Corriere della Sera’: “I don’t think that Rai’s difficulties today are the fault of the new Rai top management, who arrived a few months ago. The errors come from afar”

A Rai that behaves like a commercial TV station is bad for the television system and for the country. The CEO of Mediaset claims it, Pier Silvio Berlusconi, in an interview with Corriere della Sera. “We – he underlines – have been growing in audience for several seasons, we have changed pace since 2020 after the Covid emergency. And at the same time Rai has become a bit involved, in the sense that it has forgotten that first of all ‘Rai is the Rai’, which means institution and public service. Instead, as soon as there is a slight drop in audience ratings, its response is to increase the behavior of commercial TV, in the hope of obtaining a few decimals of share which then does not always arrive; a self-defeating conduct which in the long run it hurts the entire television system. A rich and powerful Rai (in ideas and products) was a great competitor for us, but it served to keep the benchmark high, because Rai is the guide of the Italian publishing system. If, however, it behaves as a commercial broadcaster, this institutional role disappears.”

On the debate around the reduction of the Rai license fee, Berlusconi says: “The funding for Rai is important, Italy is the country that dedicates the least resources to the audiovisual sector in all of Europe. And it is a mistake, because TV is not just a an industry that creates employment and related activities, but is central to the present and future identity of our country”.

When Rai’s Auditel surrendered in the season that had just begun, “I – says Berlusconi – don’t think that Rai’s difficulties today – autumn 2023 – are the fault of the new Rai top management, who arrived a few months ago; the errors rather come from afar. Who there is today instead has a great opportunity, which I think it wants to pursue: returning to bringing Rai to being first and foremost a public service which does not mean making boring TV, black and white documentaries, but having an identity that distinguishes it from commercial TV”.

On the increasingly delayed start of prime time programmes, which now start at almost 10pm, Berlusconi says: “It’s an issue that started some time ago due to the competition between Striscia and Affari Tui. We have now decided to stop earlier by giving setting a good example and making the first move, despite risking a few decimals of audience in prime time. In this way we have offered a service to the entire public and given the opportunity to Rai to do the same, allowing Italian families to really follow up basically all the programs. It would be enough to look each other in the eye and close at the same time. I’m ready immediately”, he says.

On the programs of the new Mediaset season, Berlusconi celebrates in particular that of Bianca Berlinguer on Rete 4, which got off to a “great start”, “on the busiest day for information” (“a professional called Berlinguer on Berlusconi’s networks might have seemed like a risk, she is very good and the quality of the product always wins”). As for Myrta Merlino in the afternoon of Canale 5, “she found herself faced with a very difficult task, to make the afternoon program of Canale 5 more serious and journalistic. The data is good: in terms of ratings we are in line with last season”. Finally, he is “very convinced and very satisfied with the new Big Brother formula. We were risking going further. Even if it were, and it isn’t, one point less share is better than falling into lack of respect”. However, there was no comment on the Giambruno case: “I’m just saying that I’m very sorry and that I’ve read tragicomic reconstructions”.