A high ranking member of Silvio Berlusconi's Italian government has openly criticized Cinecitta Holding's decision to appoint Antonio More managing director of state-run distributor Istituto Luce, after president Angelo Guglielmi stepped down last week.

Leading Italian daily La Repubblica quoted Culture under-secretary Nicola Bono as saying: "The fairness which the government has demonstrated so far towards organisations whose management had been appointed by the preceding left-wing government has been mistaken either for acquiescence or for a desire to maintain a certain type of status quo.

"There are people who believe they can act with impunity while they continue to follow an old logic of power, as if nothing had happened. Some even believe the government should be forbidden from exercising its right to appoint management even at the few organisations whose board of directors is up for renewal."

Cinecitta Holding defended its appointment of More, who is already a board member at Istituto Luce and vice-president of Cinecitta Studios, as a temporary move. But with the boards of directors of all top state-backed institutions due for renewal in the next few months, Bono's criticism appears to herald the way for a general shake up at the helm of all state-backed companies operating in the Italian film sector.

Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani is expected to announce the replacement of Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera, Venice Biennale president Paolo Baratta, Rai Cinema chairman Giuliano Montaldo, state broadcaster Rai head Roberto Zaccaria, Cinecitta Holding chiefs Felice Laudadio and Fabiano Fabiani, Italian promotional body Italia Cinema head Luciana Castellina, and National Italian Film School president Lino Micchiche.