RAI – Radiotelevisione italiana[3] (Italian pronunciation: [ˈrai ˌradjoteleviˈzjoːne itaˈljaːna]; commercially styled as Rai since 2000; known until 1954 as Radio Audizioni Italiane)[4] is the national public broadcasting company of Italy, owned by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

RAI Radiotelevisione italiana S.p.A.
Società per azioni (S.p.A.) (State Owned)
IndustryMass media
Founded1924 (1924) (as URI)
1944 (1944) (as RAI)
1954 (1954) (as RAI S.p.A.)
FounderGovernment of Italy
HeadquartersRome, Italy
Area served
Italy (and other neighbouring countries in the EU, see lead section)
Key people
Fabrizio Salini (CEO)
Marcello Foa (Chairman)
Web Portal
Revenue 2.4 billion (2014)[1]
257 million (2014)[1]
14 million (2017)[2]
OwnerMinistry of Economy and Finance
Number of employees
11635 (2014)[1]
  • Rai Way
  • Rai Pubblicità S.p.A.
  • Rai Com S.p.A.
  • Rai Cinema S.p.A.
  • 01 Distribution S.r.l.

RAI operates many terrestrial and subscription television channels and radio stations. It is one of the biggest television broadcaster in Italy and competes with Mediaset,[5] and other minor television and radio networks. RAI has a relatively high television audience share of 33.8%.[6]

RAI broadcasts are also received in neighbouring countries, including Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Slovenia, Vatican City, Switzerland, and Tunisia, and elsewhere on pay television. Half of the RAI's revenues come from broadcast receiving licence fees, the rest from the sale of advertising time.[7][8] In 1950, the RAI became one of the 23 founding broadcasting organizations of the European Broadcasting Union.



The Unione Radiofonica Italiana (URI) was formed in 1924 with the backing of the Marconi Company following a model adopted in other European countries. URI made its inaugural broadcast a speech by Benito Mussolini at Teatro Costanzi on 5 October. Regular programming began the following evening, with a quartet performing Haydn's Quartet No. 7 in A major from the Palazzo Corradi. At 21.00 CET, Ines Donarelli Viviani announced for the first time: "URIUnione Radiofonica Italiana Rome station 1RO 425 meters wavelength. To all those who are listening our greetings, good evening".[9] Guglielmo Marconi's S.A. RadiofonoSocietà Italiana per le Radiocomunicazioni Circolari (Radiofono) held 85% of URI shares and Western Electric's Società Italiana Radio Audizioni Circolari (SIRAC) held the remaining 15%.

Under the provisions of Royal Decree No. 1067 of 8 February 1923, wireless broadcasting became a state monopoly under the control of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs; URI was commissioned to provide services for a minimum of six years pursuant to Royal Decree No. 2191 of 14 October 1924 "Concessione dei servizi radioauditivi circolari alla Società Anonima Unione Radiofonica Italiana".[10] However, when URI's contract expired in 1927, it was succeeded under Royal Decree Law No. 2207 of 17 November 1927 by the partially nationalised Ente Italiano per le Audizioni Radiofoniche (EIAR), which became Radio Audizioni Italiane S.p.A. (RAI) with investment from Società Idroelettrica Piemontese (SIP) in 1944.


During the reconstruction following World War II, much of RAI's early programming was influenced by the "Reithian" style of the BBC. The emphasis was on educational content. Programs like Non è mai troppo tardi and Un viaggio al Po introduced people to what life was like in other parts of the country, at a time when most people could not afford to travel.

Over the following years the RAI made various changes to its services. It reorganized its radio stations in November 1946 into two national networks, Rete Rossa and Rete Azzurra ("Red Network" and "Blue Network"). It added the culture-based Terzo Programma in October 1950. On 1 January 1952 the Rete Rossa became the Programma Nazionale (focusing on informational content) and the Rete Azzurra became the Secondo Programma (with a greater emphasis on entertainment). The three radio channels eventually became today's Rai Radio 1, Rai Radio 2, and Rai Radio 3.


In 1954 the state-owned holding company Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI) became the sole shareholder and IRI – now renamed RAIRadiotelevisione italiana to reflect its extended responsibilities – finally began a regular television service. On 3 January at 11.00 CET, the first RAI television announcer presented the day's schedule, which was broadcast from the service's Milan headquarters and relay stations in Turin and Rome. At 14.30, the first regular programme in Italian television history was broadcast: Arrivi e partenze, hosted by Armando Pizzo and Mike Bongiorno. The evening's entertainment was a theatre performance, L'osteria della posta, written by Carlo Goldoni. 23.15 saw the start of the day's concluding programme, La Domenica Sportiva – the first edition of a weekly series which continues to this day.[11]


RAI was originally the subsidiary of RAI Holding S.p.A. RAI Holding was absorbed into RAI as of 1 December 2004, per Article 21 of Law 112/04.

The RAI is governed by a nine-member Administrative Council. Seven of members are elected by a committee of the Italian Parliament. The other two (one of which is the President) are nominated by the largest shareholder: the Ministry of Economic Development. The Council appoints the Director-General. The Director-General and the members of the Administrative Council are appointed for a renewable three-year term. In 2005, the government of Silvio Berlusconi proposed partial privatization of RAI by selling 20% ownership. This proposal was very controversial, in part because Berlusconi was the head of the leading private broadcaster Mediaset. Some critics claimed that Mediaset could become the buyer and thus increase its dominant position. However, after the revelation that RAI would lose €80m ($96m, £54m) in 2006, the privatization plan was suspended in October 2005.[12][13]


On 18 May 2010, Raisat received a major upgrade and re-branded with a new logo and a new name. It and all of the sister channels dropped the sat part from the name and became Rai YoYo, Rai 5 (formerly known as Rai Extra), Rai Premium, and Rai Movie (formerly known as Raisat Cinema).

On 11 June 2013, the RAI was one of the few known European broadcasters to condemn and criticize the closure of Greece's state broadcaster ERT.

RAI company has been criticized because as of 2015 it had 46 directors and 262 head offices and they are considered too many; RAI Spa is a private company but it is 100% owned by the Italian Government and all the TV owners in Italy have to pay an annual tax of 100 euros.[14]

RAI Spa company is 99% owned by the Italian Government Ministry of Economy and Finance, so it is said that it broadcasts content that may politically influence people.[15][16]

TV channels

Current channels

Logo Name Channel Type Launched Description
Rai 1 1 Free-to-air
3 January 1954 generalist and family-oriented
Rai 2 2 Free-to-air
4 November 1961 generalist, catering towards urban audiences
Rai 3 3 Free-to-air
15 December 1979 generalist and regional programming
Rai 4 21 Free-to-air
14 July 2008 TV series, movies and shows
Rai 5 23 Free-to-air
26 November 2010 culture, music, documentaries
Rai Gulp 42 Free-to-air
1 June 2007 kids/teens
Rai Movie 24 Free-to-air
1 July 1999 movies
Rai News24 48 Free-to-air
26 April 1999 all news
Rai Premium 25 Free-to-air
31 July 2003 fiction
Rai Scuola 146 Free-to-air
19 October 2009 educational
Rai Sport 58 Free-to-air 1 February 1999 sports
Rai Storia 54 Free-to-air 2 February 2009 history
Rai Yoyo 43 Free-to-air 1 November 2006 kids
Rai 1 HD 501 Free-to-air 25 October 2013 HD version of Rai 1
Rai 2 HD 502 Free-to-air 25 October 2013 HD version of Rai 2
Rai 3 HD 503 Free-to-air 25 October 2013 HD version of Rai 3
Rai 4 HD 521 Free-to-air 22 January 2016 HD version of Rai 4
Rai 5 HD 113 Free-to-view 19 September 2016 HD version of Rai 5
Rai Movie HD 114 Free-to-view 26 May 2016 HD version of Rai Movie
Rai Premium HD 525 Free-to-air 26 May 2016 HD version of Rai Premium
Rai Sport + HD 57 Free-to-air 14 September 2015 HD version of Rai Sport
Rai 4K 210 Free-to-view 17 June 2016 Ultra Definition channel
Rai Italia International 1 January 1992 reaching out to Italian expatriates
Rai World Premium International Italian culture
Rai Ladinia Regional Ladin language channel in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
Rai Südtirol Regional German language channel in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
Rai 3 BIS FJK 103 Regional 1995 Slovene language channel in Friuli-Venezia Giulia/Furlanija Julijska Krajina

Discontinued channels

  • Rai Azzurri: UEFA Euro 2004 (2004, broadcast using Rai Utile frequencies)
  • Rai Doc: cultures, styles (1 April 2004 — 1 June 2007)
  • Rai Extra: generalist (31 July 2003 — 26 November 2010)
  • Rai Festival (broadcast using Rai Utile frequencies)
  • Rai Futura: technologies, games, etc. (30 May 2005 — 1 February 2007, broadcast on the same frequences of Rai Doc at settled times)
  • Rai HD (22 April 2008 — 18 September 2016)
  • Rai Med (26 April 2001 — April 2014)
  • Rai Olimpia: 2004 Summer Olympics (2004, broadcast using Rai Utile frequencies)
  • Rai Sport 2 (18 May 2010 — 5 February 2017)
  • Rai Sport 2 HD (1 August — 19 September 2016, HD version launched for 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games)
  • Rai UniNettuno Sat Uno (1998 — April 2014)
  • Rai UniNettuno Sat Due (2003 — 1 February 2009)
  • Rai Utile (4 January 2004 — 1 January 2008)
  • Rai Widescreen: 1998 FIFA World Cup (1998—1999)
  • Rai On Cultura (IPTV)
  • Rai On Fiction (IPTV)
  • Rai On Fiction Live (IPTV)
  • Rai On News (IPTV)
  • Rai On Ragazzi (IPTV)
  • Rai On Spettacolo (IPTV)
  • Rai On Sport (IPTV)
  • RaiSat 1 (1997—1999)
  • RaiSat 2 (1997—1999)
  • RaiSat 3/Educational (1997—2000)
  • RaiSat Album (1 June 1999 — 30 July 2003)
  • RaiSat Art (1999 — 30 July 2003)
  • RaiSat Fiction (2000 — 30 July 2003)
  • RaiSat Gambero Rosso Channel (1999 — 31 July 2009)
  • RaiSat Ragazzi (1 July 1999 — 31 October 2006)
  • RaiSat Show (1 June 1999 — 31 July 2003)
  • RaiSat Smash Girls (1 November 2006 — 1 August 2009)

Radio channels

FM, AM, Satellite, DAB/DAB+, DTT, Filodiffusion, Web:

Discontinued channels

  • RadioStereoDue (1982—1991)
  • RadioVerdeRai (1991—1994)
  • Rai Italia Radio (1 July 1930 — 31 December 2011)
  • Rai Radio 8 Opera (6 August 2015 — 11 June 2017)

On demand service

Rai Libri

Rai Libri
  • Rai Eri (1996–2018)
  • Nuova Eri (1987–1995)
  • Edizioni Radio Italiana (ERI) (1949–1987)
  • Magazines
  • Broadcast schedules
  • Media reports
Founded1949 (1949) in Turin, Italy.
FounderGovernment of Italy 

Rai Libri is the print publishing arm of Rai, headquartered in Turin. They primarily publish magazines and periodicals for news, entertainment, the broadcast industry, and since their beginning, broadcast schedules. They also have published since 1969 the Dictionary of Orthography and Pronunciation, the largest Italian dictionary of its kind.

Publishing history

RAI's history in print with the Unione Radiofonica Italiana (URI)'s weekly magazine Radio Orario which debuted in January 1925 and became Radiocorriere in 1930. Edizioni Radio Italiana (ERI) was founded in 1949 in Turin, formed entirely from RAI capital to build on Radiocorriere's success. In 1954 primary ownership was split between RAI and Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI).[17] That same year Radiocorriere became Radiocorriere TV, which would continue to be published until RAI divested in 1995.[18]

During the 50s and 60s the ERI published Classe Unica, L'Approdo letterario and L'Approdo Musicale, and in 1969 the first edition of the DOP. The 80s saw the premiere of the monthlies Moda (1983) and King (1987),[19] along with registering a new company name in 1987: Nuova Eri Edizioni Rai-Radiotelevisione Italiana S.p.A., or "Nuova ERI".[17]

Since the 90s RAI/ERI has increasingly focused on publishing books written by its own broadcast stars, both in news and entertainment. In 1995 Nuova ERI closed and reopened in 1996 as "Rai Eri".[20] On 15 October 2018 they renamed to "Rai Libri".

Rai Libri also edits technical publications: Elettronica e telecomunicazioni since 1946,[21] Nuova rivista musicale italiana since 1967,[22] and Nuova civiltà delle macchine since 1957.[23] It produces its own reports on communications and media, with the second edition of the book-and-documentary RicordeRai released in 2004 in collaboration with Rai Teche.

Radiocorriere TV

RAI (originally URI) had printed its broadcast schedules nearly without interruption starting in 1925 as Radio Orario, then from 1930 as Radiocorriere,[24][25] then continuously from 1954 as Radiocorriere TV, until RAI divested in 1995.

The magazine was restarted under publisher Rcc edizioni with a print edition from 1999–2008, closing due to poor sales. It reopened in 2012 as an online-only publication, with a handful of special-occasion independent print runs in the intervening years, including 2005 (its 80th anniversary),[26] 2010 (switchover to DTTV),[27] and 2011 (150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy).[28] The "Rai Ufficio Stampa [press office]" website has meanwhile published programming schedules and television blurbs online since 2011 under the magazine's name. On 3 January 2014 Rai Teche published online the complete 1925–1995 archives of URI/RAI's Radio Orario/Radiocorriere/TV.[29]

Headquarters and offices

SeatCenters of television productionAuditoriums/theatresStudios
RomeCentro radiotelevisivo "Biagio Agnes", Saxa Rubra16
RomeCPTV Via Teulada, 669
RomeCPTV Studi "Fabrizio Frizzi", Via Ettore Romagnoli, 306
RomeTeatro delle Vittorie1 theatre
RomeAuditorium of Foro Italico1 auditorium
MilanCP Corso Sempione, 273 auditoriums5
MilanCPTV Via Mecenate, 764
NaplesCP Viale Marconi, 91 auditorium7
TurinCP Via Verdi, 161 auditorium6

Local offices

Foreign offices

There are RAI offices in foreign countries, which produce news reports that are broadcast live in Italy. These offices are in: Brussels, Paris, Berlin, London, New York City, Beijing, Cairo, Jerusalem, Nairobi, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro.


Debt level

As March 2015, the RAI has a debt of 442 million and the Italian Court of Audit was worried about the size of RAI's debt for the impact that this may have on Italian people, as the company is owned by the state.[30]

Mandatory annual fee on all televisions in Italy

Italians must purchase an annual television license for about €90 every year in order to legally own a TV or HDTV. It is known as Canone Rai, "Rai Tax" because it is used to part-fund the RAI. Since 2016, it is financed through the electricity bill.[31]

See also


  1. (in English) Retrieved on 13-01-2016
  2. http://www.repubblica.it/economia/2018/05/07/news/il_taglio_dei_costi_salva_il_bilancio_rai_il_2017_si_chiude_in_utile_per_14_milioni-195770301/
  3. "Rai.it - Il gruppo Rai". www.rai.it. Retrieved 2017-12-25.
  4. Originally a distinction was made in Italian between wireless telegraphy (radiofonia) and wireless telephony (radioaudizione circolare). The latter term has now fallen into disuse. La radio in Italia cronologia (in Italian) Retrieved on 2007-11-28
  5. Pusterla, Sabrina (27 November 2018). "The Italian Television System Explained". Italics Magazine. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  6. "Ascolti tv 2013 - Predominio Rai con Rai1 - DavideMaggio.it". DavideMaggio.it. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  7. "Basta con il governo padrone, così cambierà la Tv pubblica" Archived 2007-12-27 at Archive.today (in Italian) Retrieved on 2007-10-10
  8. " DDL Riforma Rai" Archived 2007-12-13 at Archive.today (in Italian) Italian Ministry of Communications, Retrieved on 2007-10-10
  9. The Origins of radio broadcasting in Italy Comitato Guglielmo Marconi International (retrieved 27 November 2011)
  10. Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 11 of 15 January 1925 pp. 164-167
  11. retrieved on 2009-06-21 (in Italian)
  12. ""RAI's privatisation is de facto suspended", its new director general, Alfredo Meocci, told a parliamentary watchdog committee". Archived from the original on 2006-05-14. Retrieved 2006-03-28.
  13. "Berlusconi halts plan to sell off state broadcaster". Financial Times. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  14. http://www.canone.rai.it/Ordinari/RisposteFAQ.aspx?ID=24
  15. "Il pubblico in fuga da una Rai faziosa". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  16. ""Rai faziosa" Brunetta lancia l'osservatorio online". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  17. Annuario RAI 1988 1989, Torino, Nuova ERI, 1989
  18. "Rai Eri, la Rai da Leggere". Archived from the original on 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2016-02-17 via www.eri.rai.it.
  19. Websushi.it, ed. (2009-07-30). "Moda e King, l'ironia patinata". Archived from the original on 2016-07-30. Retrieved 2016-02-17 via Retrovisore– un sito di Luca Pollini.
  20. "ERI". Enciclopedia Treccani. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  21. Rivista tecnica dal 1946, cfr. il sito.
  22. Nata nel 1967 è oggi diretta da Giovanni Carli Ballola, Paolo Donati, Giorgio Pestelli, Giancarlo Rostirolla e Roman Vlad
  23. Su progetto di Leonardo Sinisgalli che ne diresse la prima serie (1957-1979) è oggi diretta dal comitato scientifico di Dario Antiseri, Edoardo Boncinelli, Umberto Bottazzini, Vittorio Marchis e Silvano Tagliagambe in collaborazione con il Centro D.I.E.A. (Documentazione su Ingegneria ed Etica Ambientale) della Facoltà di Ingegneria dell'Università di Bologna.
  24. Radio Orario – History (1925)
  25. Images of Radiocorriere from the 1930s: "Copertina del Radiocorriere del 24 ottobre 1937" (JPEG). Retrieved 2018-10-23., "Copertina del Radiocorriere del 31 dicembre 1939" (JPEG). Retrieved 2018-10-23., Altre prime pagine dal 1936 al 1977.
  26. http://www.ipzs.it/news/comunicato_radioccorriere.pdf
  27. Radiocorriere TV 2010 TVRD edition
  28. AGI.it - 'NATA PER UNIRE', CD CANZONI 150° UNITA' ITALIA Archived 2011-02-21 at the Wayback Machine
  29. "Settant'anni di storia della radio e della tv italiane nelle pagine del Radiocorriere". Spettacoli - La Repubblica (in Italian). 2014-01-08. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
  30. "Corte dei Conti, alert sul debito della Rai". Repubblica.it. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  31. http://www.canone.rai.it/Ordinari/Importi.aspx#Importi1

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