Ciao Rai International: la fine…
Monday, October 1st, 2007

Yesterday after 72 years the international shortwave broadcasts of Italy closed down. Rai International ceased its shortwave broadcasts, and ceased broadcasting in 25 languages. This news doesn’t seem to have had much attention within Italy. Only some specialised websites about (international) radio broadcasts mentioned it, alongside a couple of items in a very few newspapers.

Even Rai International’s website didn’t mention the end, and on the broadcast itself it was only mentioned on the end of the newscast. In some comments it was mentioned that, from the country where Marconi came from, it is painful to consider that information in languages other than Italian is not available anymore.

As a result of the end of these broadcast, the broadcasts of German news within Italy during the programme ‘Notturno Italiano’ on the mediumwave frequencies of Rai Radio 1 have also ceased. English and French newscasts are still on the air. However Rai continues to produce German programming including news, thanks to the special status of the Alto Adige region (Sudtirol) where Rai Sender Bozen, which recently also became available on the Internet, is active.

The Italian language radio programmes of Rai International continue on satellite, Internet and some relays on FM in Canada, Australia and the United States. These broadcasts are mostly relays of Rai Radio 1, Rai Radio 2 and Rai Radio 3. Rai International focuses more on its television activities. Rumours suggest that a Spanish language TV news programme might re-appear.

In parliament Riccardo Pedrizzi, a member of the right wing opposition party Alleanza Nazionale, has asked the government to explain the ceasing of the foreign and shortwave broadcasts. Pedrizzi opposes the end of shortwave broadcasts and the total end of foreign language radio broadcasts of Rai International. “The decision seems to be in total contradiction to the obligation deriving from the convention which was signed at the end of July,” according to Pedrizzi. In this convention, Pedrizzi recalls, it is mentioned that foreign citizens interested or potentially interested in Italy and its values, culture, way of life, creativity and products should be targeted, which in the opinion of the Alleanza Nazionale politician should mean an increase of efforts instead of closing down.

Pedrizzi asked the government if it is correct that the current convention between government and Rai/Rai International allows the closing of the broadcasts, and what initiatives the government will take in this matter. According to Pedrizzi this situation is in contradiction with the international role Italy wants to play in the world.