In an apparent effort to contain ongoing criticism over Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's sway on state broadcaster RAI, the speakers of the two houses of the Italian Parliament have decided that the network's next president should be appointed from the opposition party.

The unprecedented decision (Rai's president and three of its five board members are normally appointed from the governing coalition) followed the resignation last week of president Antonio Baldassarre and remaining board member Ettore Alberoni.

The three other RAI board members - Carmine Donzelli, Luigi Zanda and Marco Staderini - had already resigned last November, leaving Baldassare and Albertoni - both politically close to Silvio Berlusconi - alone to vote on company decisions.

"A guarantee of impartiality' can be obtained by having an authoritative president from the opposition and a board of directors made up of highly qualified professionals who represent the other political side," lower house speaker Pierferdinando Casini and Senate speaker Marcello Pera said.

"We have worked well," Casini said of his day-long meeting behind closed doors with Pera.

The two speakers will meet again this week to decide on the names of Rai's new board.