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Roberto Morrione: Italy's ambassador to the world.

To understand Roberto Morrione's role in Italian television around the world, consider the following anecdote. During a live TV interview on the streets near the Vatican, a group of South Korean tourists were asked if they were familiar with Italian television. The tourists immediately answered that they watched RAI International.

Indeed, the satellite transmissions of RAI International, the overseas TV service of Italian state broadcaster RAI, now span the globe, with five continents covered by eight satellites (with two 24-hour TV services). All of this is accomplished with a staff of 200, scattered throughout four overseas offices and the Rome home office.

Morrione, 56, a journalist and a 36-year RAI veteran, took the position as head of RAI International in the summer of 1996. When he took office, the worldwide service was in an embryonic state, having been created a year earlier by RAI's president at the time, Letizia Moratti, whom Morrione credits for her "great vision."

Today, RAI International broadcasts 17,000 hours of TV each year (of which 10 percent are self-produced) and 13,000 hours a year of radio programs (of which 45 percent are self-produced) in several languages for the estimated 60 million people of Italian origin living outside Italy.

Morrione must achieve these results with a budget of roughly $50 million ($40 million from the state and $10 million from RAI). In comparison, Deutsche Welle, the German international radio-Tv service, operates with 1,000 employees and an annual budget of some $600 million. TV5, the French international TV service, is similarly well endowed.

In addition to conquering international viewership, Morrione has embarked on the task of maximizing Italy's many overseas resources, including ICE (the trade office), the Foreign Office and the foreign bodies of various regions and cultural institutions. For this task, Morrione can rely on his past experience as an administrator at the Rome Opera House.

In addition to TV coverage of the U.N. WorldTV Forum, RAI International is also considering making the U.N. TV feed available as streaming video on RAI's Web site.
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Title Annotation:RAI International head
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Nov 1, 1998
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