Italianstate broadcaster RAI has named Claudio Cappon as itsnew director general. He replaces former chief Alfredo Meocci.

RAI's board members are nominated by the Italianparliament. Cappon, currently head of the Italian TVproducers association APT, was previously directorgeneral of RAI between 2001 and 2002.

Inhis role, Cappon will be responsible for theday-to-day running of RAI, including its three TV networks and radio stations.

Cappon's appointment was welcomed by the Italian filmindustry, which has been in the throes of a severe funding crisis for years.

RAIis the parent company of Rai Cinema, the Italianproducer, buyer and distributor, and Rai Fiction,which produces TV dramas.

PaoloFerrari, head of national film association Anica,said he hopes Cappon's recent role at APT will help promote greatercollaboration between RAI and national film and TV associations.

"Thefates of cinema and TV can't be separated from each other. We hope RAI, whichhas always had an important role for Italian cinema, will be able to strengthenthis indispensable bond under Cappon'sdirection," said Ferrari, who is also head of Warner Bros Italia.

Membersof the Italian film industry have recently called on RAI to provide greatersupport for documentaries and Italian and European films.

"Thereshould be more space for documentaries on Italian state TV, as there has been forItalian animation whose profile was raised thanks to Rai,"said Carlo Fuscagni, president of CinecittaHolding.

"Italiancinema has trouble crossing borders or conquering the Italian public. Half thespectators watch American films, even if things have recently improved,"he said. "But RAI can help a lot in this sense, perhaps by showing one ortwo European features a week which would help the audience re-discoverthe taste for Italian films and help Italian actors find the popularity theydeserve."

Inthe meantime, the Italian film industry hopes Romano Prodi'snew centre-left government will soon return $125m (Euros 100m) to thegovernment's entertainment fund, which was drastically cut by Silvio Berlusconi's government.