VideoAge’s interview with the president and director general (DG) of Italy’s RAI, Antonio Campo Dall’Orto (pictured above with VideoAge’s editor), which will appear in the MIPCOM Issue, is interesting on several levels.

On one level, because Campo Dall’Orto (or CDO as he’s often called by the Italian press) is the first DG who hails from the television industry and not from the political world.

Secondly, CDO has managed to surround himself with skilled executives that came from Italian branches of American companies, as he himself did (he’s a former Viacom Italia executive).

And, on a third level, and the most startling, CDO is under attack by the Italian political world exactly because of the first two elements.

Years ago, Italian politicians were eager to make the public believe that they did not interfere with RAI’s management decisions. Those highly politicized managers were also capable executives who well understood the Italian and international television industry.

In those days it was normal to see the heads of TV channels, such as Carlo Fuscagni (RAI-1), Giampaolo Sodano (RAI-2) and Giuseppe Rossini (RAI-3), at international TV trade shows.

With various political changes, most RAI managers spent more time in politics than dealing with industry matters. Nine years had to pass before a top TV channel executive would be seen at TV trade shows again, (first with Antonio Marano at RAI-2), and, after another break of eight years, with Angelo Teodoli (RAI-2).

With the appointment of Campo Dall’Orto, politicians and some of the Italian press have found themselves disoriented, as they now have to deal with a pure professional, something that never happened at the DG level. Nowadays politicians are competing amongst themselves to show who can better criticize CDO and how often.

Openly brazen and without concerns about public perceptions, now politicians even question factions of ratings losses, or why RAI sent to the L.A. Screenings 14 executives, compared three at Mediaset (a made-up story since both companies sent an equal number of executives).

In the VideoAge interview, Campo Dall’Orto touched on topics such as piracy of RAI content, international program sales, RAI channels abroad, purchases of foreign programs, the creation of a unit in the style of BBC World, Prix Italy, the kind of legacy he wants to leave, and even what he will do to make talk shows understandable — with capable moderators and without guests screaming all at once.

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