The governors of RAI, Italy's state broadcaster, will this week get down to the nuts and bolts of what is possibly the most politically sensitive privatisation in Europe since the early days of the Thatcher government. At a board meeting in Rome, they are to consider a business plan drawn up by the management as a first step towards valuing the sprawling corporation and thus how much of it to put on the market.
In a country like Italy, where only a tiny percentage of the population derives its political news from printed media, a change in the ownership structure of a television empire such as RAI, which has 45% of the TV audience, would be an issue of intense political concern. But in this case, there is the additional fact that the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, owns RAI's main rival, Mediaset, whose channels control 44% of the market.
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