Italian state broadcaster RAI have agreed terms to broadcast the San Remo Music Festival for three years beginning in 2009, guaranteeing Italy's most popular non-sports television event will remain with the broadcaster which has carried it every year since its creation in 1951.
Terms of the deal were not released, but it is known that broadcast rights for San Remo has attracted interest from rival broadcasters. This is in marked contrast to Italy's other big broadcast contract, for the country's top soccer league, which attracted only limited interest before RAI won the rights last month at a steep discount.
The San Remo Music Festival, which takes place each spring, is one of Italy's most popular non-soccer TV programmes. The five-day event was broadcast by RAI's radio networks for the first four years of its history and by RAI television since 1955. Over this time the Festival has been strongly associated with the Eurovision Song Contest. Traditionally, the winner for the San Remo Music Festival would be offered the opportunity to represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest. The festival has been used as the way of choosing Italy's Eurovision entry from 1956 to 1966, in 1972 and most recently by Jalisse in 1997 with their song Fiumi di parole.
It remains to be seen whether the long tern commitment to the San Remo Festival and changes to the scoring procedure, announced today by the Reference Group of the Eurovision Song Contest, will convince RAI to send a song from the Festival to represent Italy in Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 11 years.