Italy’s public broadcaster under fire for separate channels for men and women

Italian actors have joined women rights’ groups in revolt against the "sexist" state broadcaster after it announced it was closing a film channel and replacing it with separate channels targeted to women and men.

RAI said it planned to improve its offer by targeting its TV shows, films and series specifically to women and men through the different channels.

According to RAI Chief Executive Fabrizio Salini, the aim of the new plan is to reposition programs to better reach different audiences without reducing the film offer or limiting the channels’ audience. The new plan also includes the creation of a new channel in English and one focused on politics. 

Mr Salini claimed that the programming changes were in line with a “more strategic and contemporary vision".

However, popular actors and women’s associations accused of being “sexist” and “incomprehensible”. The protest exploded on social media with the hashtag #nonchiudeteraimovie (Don’t close Rai Movie).

Alessandro Borghi, one of the most popular among Italy’s emerging actors, tweeted that RAI’s decision “didn’t make any sense” and urged the broadcaster to “use its head”. 

His call was echoed by his colleague Alessandro Gassman – son of Vittorio Gassman, one of Italy’s most famous actors ever – who supported a petition on change.org asking RAI not to shut down Rai Movie.  

Women activists also accused RAI, describing the proposal as “grotesque and even dangerous”.

Lella Palladino, the president of the Women against Violence Network, said the plans will end up reinforcing the prejudices that fuel discrimination between men and women in a macho society. 

“This is a structural phenomenon of a society that is still struggling to overcome a patriarchal supremacy,” Palladino said.

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