MIPTV: New structure will be more active in co-productions. Current Rai Trade director Luigi De Siervo [pictured] to serve as CEO of new division.

Italian state broadcaster Rai is restructuring its sales division to create a new subsidiary bringing all its commercial activities under the same roof.

The new entity will cover all the areas traditionally covered by Rai Trade, including the domestic and international distribution of all Rai television and cinema productions, sports rights, licensing and music publishing.

In addition, it will also handle the digital rights of the slate of 01 Distribution, the distribution arm of the broadcaster’s feature film subsidiary Rai Cinema.

“The idea is to create a structure which is more flexible and can act more quickly while taking time to market Rai’s products… it will be in the vein of France Televisions Distribution, ZDF or BBC Worldwide,” Rai Trade’s head of cinema and TV international Mattia Oddone told ScreenDaily at MIPTV in Cannes.

He said it would be business as usual at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival as the new subsidiary is currently in construction and has yet to be named. It is expected to become operational around end June, early July.

Rai Trade’s current director Luigi De Siervo will serve as CEO of the new body.

“The decision was only taken by the board of directors last Thursday… at Cannes we’ll probably be working under the old Rai Trade label,” said Oddone.

“The structure of the television and films sales team will essentially be the same - we are six in-house people and eight freelance agents around the world,” he added.

The overall commercial team would be enlarged, however, to bring in people to handle digital rights as well as new licensing opportunities linked to Rai’s growing slate of animation properties.

Under the new structure, Oddone said, the commercial team will become more involved in co-productions, initially focusing on animation

“The idea is to shorten the distance between production and distribution. Since we are a direct link to the market, we know what buyers want. We are trying to persuade Rai to produce more and more international content,” said Oddone.

Last October, Rai Trade acquired the rights to the Italian YouTube sensation Il Pulcino Pio (The Little Chick Cheep) from Rome-based Globo Records. The song and animation short, featuring a chick, has generated more than 450 million views since its release in 2012 and been translated into several languages.

“We’re currently in negotiation with a couple of partners in Spain and Germany,” said Oddone. “We’ve appointed the creative team and we’re working on the first scripts… I can’t say anything yet but they’re well-known names. The plan at the moment is to make 52 episodes of five minutes.”

The company has also recently branched into selling web-series formats with Ivan Cotroneo’s Mamma Imperfetta, which was produced by Indigo Film, the company behind Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning The Great Beauty.

Revolving around four mothers trying to juggle work and home life, the show was originally released on the website of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera before airing on television.

The format has already been sold to ABC Studios for the US as well as to France, Spain Germany.

“It was a huge a success in Italy… it about mothers trying to juggle work, children and husbands,” said Oddone.

“ABC is evaluating what to do with it now… they’re thinking about making a pilot for television… France, Spain and Germany will probably keep it as a web-series.”