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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Reality shows back on Italian TV
Grande Fratello (copyright: Mediaset)
The Italian version of Big Brother is very popular
The president of Italian state broadcaster RAI has lost his battle to ban reality TV shows from its channels.

Claudio Petruccioli recommended that RAI drop the shows from schedules, saying they led to "unreasonable if not degrading behaviour".

But the RAI board has approved the new series of L'Isola dei Famosi, which sees celebrities fending for themselves on a secluded island.

RAI, funded by an annual licence fee, will screen the show later this year.

L'Isola dei Famosi - one of the most popular shows in Italy along with Il Grande Fratello (Big Brother) - caused controversy last year when one contestant swore live on TV.

Mr Petruccioli had recommended RAI drop the programmes, saying they "put people into environments that are both unrealistic and coercive".

Petruccioli's words must be taken seriously
Nino Rizzo Nervo
RAI board member

He also said such shows ran counter to RAI's mandate to be a public service broadcaster.

Mr Petruccioli defended his position by saying the money saved from commissioning reality TV shows would be invested in making more cultural programmes and films.

The producers of L'Isola dei Famosi had warned earlier this week that they would knock on the door of TV rival Mediaset if RAI did not quickly sign up for the new series.

Mediaset is funded only by advertising and is controlled by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

While the RAI did not follow Mr Petruccioli's recommendation, they did ask the producers to pay more attention to the choice of the contestants to avoid embarrassing incidents.

"Petruccioli's words must be taken seriously," board member Nino Rizzo Nervo said.

"Now we have all the time to understand which reality shows, if any, we want to have in 2008."

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