The new leadership of public service broadcasting in Italy for the next three years is in place.

The competent committee of the parliament in Rome on Wednesday confirmed the current chairman of the Vodafone Foundation and experienced media manager Marinella Soldi as director of the Rai.

Carlo Fuortes, currently director of the Rome Opera, will be the new chairman of the board with responsibility for the operative business.

Matthias Rüb

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

  • Follow I follow

Soldi was born in Valdarno near Florence in 1966 and grew up in London, where she had moved with her parents when she was eight. She studied economics at the London School of Economics and later in France. She started her career at the consulting firm McKinsey. She later worked as a manager at MTV and also at Discovery Channel. Under Soldi's leadership as the person responsible for southern Europe, Discovery developed into the third largest television station in Italy. In 2018 she retired from day-to-day business and took over the management of the Vodafone Foundation.

Fuortes, born in 1959, comes from Rome, where he studied economics at the University of “La Sapienza” and later made a name for himself as a manager of public and private cultural institutions, from museums to theaters to film and television.

In 2013 Fuortes took over the artistic direction of the Rome Opera.

His contract was last extended for another five years in 2020.

Independent experts instead of party officials

Soldi and Fuortes had been nominated for leadership positions at Rai by the independent Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Similar to key positions in the cabinet, the important personal details for Italy's media landscape are a sign of the efforts of the former ECB boss to entrust independent experts instead of party officials with management tasks.

There had been fierce opposition from the post-fascist party "Brothers of Italy" under Giorgia Meloni to the appointment of Soldi. Meloni's party is the only opposition party of any size in parliament, with all other major parties supporting Draghi's coalition. Meloni felt that Draghi had passed over the nomination process. Although the deputies and senators of the "Brothers of Italy" boycotted the vote in the mixed control committee of parliament, Soldi immediately received the required two-thirds majority of the votes.

With almost 13,000 employees and a share of almost 34 percent of the daily audience ratings, Rai, founded in 1954, is still a politically and economically determinant factor on the Italian radio and television market. It operates a dozen and a half television and ten radio stations, including news channels, sports channels, and cultural programs. The annual budget is almost 2.7 billion euros. The annual radio license fee of 90 euros per household is collected with the electricity bill and covers around 64 percent of the income, 25 percent comes from advertising income.