Rai, we need governance that ensures a credible product

Mauro Masi’s Memo for Adnkronos

Rai. On 3 January 1954 the first RAI broadcast was broadcast, in the 70 years that followed RAI was undoubtedly – beyond the recurring controversies and media excesses that characterized it from the beginning – one of the pillars of Italian customs; a constant reference, for better or for worse, for many fellow citizens. A complex company (and I know something about it having been its head for about three years) above all because right from the start I had to manage a delicate relationship between public radio and television service and market needs. A balance that is already difficult in itself but made, over time, even more difficult by a governance established by law and the result of the different political balances that have characterized the country and not necessarily aimed at seeking the best (pro-tempore) corporate efficiency.

In this context, the need to completely or partially privatize the company has often been discussed. Interesting debate but, in some ways, misleading because it is obvious that the Legislator can decide to privatize a public asset whenever he wants and for a thousand different reasons even just to raise cash but the change in ownership structures does not, in itself, make a company more efficient or healthier. So much so that there are, in Italy and abroad, efficient public companies (I am thinking of many hospitals in the Italian provinces) and loose and losing private companies. The idea that what is private is in itself more efficient is not, in my opinion, just a cliché but is also a ‘half-idea’ in the sense that it focuses exclusively on the ownership structure and neglects, precisely, governance that is, the set of rules that govern the functioning of a company and its bodies. The last significant reform of RAI governance dates back to 2015 when the figure of the CEO was introduced, in my opinion deservedly.

Since then, although relatively few years have passed, the company’s universe of reference has completely changed, driven by the whirlwind developments of digital technology, the Internet and now Artificial Intelligence. We are in a world in which anyone, as long as they want it, can find everything and the opposite of everything for free online; a world where there is no longer (as in the recent past) a shortage of messages and information but, on the contrary, we are overwhelmed by a plethora of messages which, however, too often are neither more nor less than fake news and/or unsubstantiated tales.

Here, in this context, I believe that the current (and future) figure of the public radio and television service must be “credibility” and therefore the Legislator will have to provide RAI with a governance that guarantees citizens/listeners/consumers not only the best possible efficiency corporate but also a credible product (because ‘verified’ in its sources and quality). Only in this way will ‘RAI mother’ be able to continue to enjoy at least another 70 years of honeymoon with Italy and Italians.

Movie. The year just ended was characterized by a (in many respects, surprising) return of the public to cinemas in style, reversing a multi-year trend that seemed unstoppable. Much is due to the desire for participation and socialization that exploded in the post-pandemic period but the global driving force of two films (“Oppenahimer” and “Barbie”), very different from each other but both charismaticly successful, was also important. Furthermore, other important films were released in 2023; I would like to point out two: one absolutely successful (“Maestro” by and with Bradley Cooper, a refined biopic on the life of Leonard Bernestein); one that isn’t too successful (“Indiana Jones and the Quadrant of Destiny”) but is so full of the deja vu of a saga that has made the history of cinema that you can’t help but see it. (By Mauro Masi)