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Grillo blames Italy's woes on state broadcaster RAI

Calls Sanremo music fest 'emptiness par excellence'

18 February, 20:11
Grillo blames Italy's woes on state broadcaster RAI (see related) (ANSA) - Sanremo, February 18 - Anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Beppe Grillo blamed Italy's "political and economic disaster" on State radio and television broadcaster RAI.

On his way to attend the Sanremo Music Festival on Tuesday evening, the gadfly comedian-turned-politician told journalists that he wants "to make people understand that today's RAI is not that of their parents". "This is a country as precarious as your information," he said. "Let's go there, to where there is emptiness par excellence: the Sanremo Music Festival".

Italy's 64th annual publicly funded song competition and televised prime-time entertainment extravaganza, which has launched many a musical career including those of Andrea Bocelli, Gigliola Cinquetti and Eros Ramazzotti, kicks off Tuesday in the northeastern sea resort by the same name.

For the first time in its 63-year history, the festival will not lose taxpayer money, organizers predicted at a news briefing Monday. This year's festival cost 18 million euros, but will rake in 20.2 million euros in advertising, the director of RAI 1 State TV channel, which has broadcast every edition since 1955, told reporters.

"We will make 2.2 million euros, plus 600,000 euros in ticket sales," for the festival which runs February 18-22, said RAI 1 Director Giancarlo Leone.

"In terms of ratings, I'd be happy if we end up somewhere between the 35.4% low of 2004 and the 2013 peak of 47.3%".

Grillo said he would not interfere with the show.