Mario Timbal, a breath of fresh air on Ticino radio and television

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Mario lead, 43, has become the youngest director in place since the creation of Radiotelevisione della svizzera italiana in 1931. Appointed in December 2020, he succeeds Maurizio Canetta, 64, who retired after more than 40 years of service, including seven as director. A legacy that is therefore not easy, especially since Mario Timbal was preferred to the favorite, Milena Foletti, deputy director and program manager, who joined the RSI in 1988 and who has just slammed the door of the ‘business.

The new boss is someone well known in Ticino. He did all his classes there, first in Lugano then at Papio College in Ascona, where he graduated. After his degree in Lausanne, he returned to his canton for a journalism internship at Corriere del Ticino. His name is also closely linked to the Locarno Film Festival, where he collaborated from 2009 and which he co-directed as director of operations from 2013 to 2017.

A famous mother

But the canton is small, and the Ticinese also know Mario Timbal to be the son of the famous international prosecutor. Carla Del Ponte, now retired. A family tie that earned him some hints of favoritism during his appointment.

“A German-speaking newspaper wrote it clearly, citing people who know me but without contacting me personally”, he laments, while adding: “I do not think that I owe my appointment to the reputation of my mother. but rather to my training, both cultural and managerial. Having said that, I am proud to be the son of Carla Del Ponte, I was fortunate enough to grow up in an intellectually stimulating and fulfilling environment, although having a famous mother who lived under escort also meant being in the face of to an extraordinary family life… ”

Mario Timbal receives us on the sixth floor of the RSI headquarters, in Comano, above Lugano, in a meeting room, his office still cluttered with boxes from his recent move. The young director has just arrived – with his family, his wife, Ivana, and their two children, Milo, 8, and Amelia, 7 – from Arles, where the Ticino has led operations for three years of the French branch of the Luma Cultural Foundation, created in 2004 in Switzerland by Maja Hoffmann.

Smiling, a toned physique thanks to a regular practice of his favorite sport, cycling, Mario Timbal tells us how he intends to get the RSI out of the economic, structural and social crisis that is shaking it: “First of all, I will build on creativity, which is one of the best arrows in our bow and a fundamental basis, not only for our region but for the whole country. It will therefore be a question of creating the ideal conditions to allow everyone to express themselves at best and it will be necessary to arm ourselves with courage to get out of this difficult moment. We will also have to move towards a digital transformation, knowing how to diversify while defending the quality of our offer and preserving our human capital. ”

A hot file

The director is aware of the cuts to the RSI budget – 8 million francs to be saved by 2024, which means the loss of 45 jobs, of which 34 have yet to be cut – but he will do whatever it takes its power to avoid layoffs, even if it cannot totally exclude them: “In addition to spontaneous departures, we will offer early retirement and analyze skills and people on a case-by-case basis.”

As has been the case at RTS, RSI has faced charges of mobbing, abuse of authority and harassment in recent months. A hot issue if there is one, that Mario Timbal intends to tackle: “We owe it to ourselves to be transparent and to hide nothing, the reputation of our company has been tarnished – around forty reports have been filed – and two instances external teams are responsible for the investigations. As soon as the results are known, probably by the beginning of the summer, we will assess the possible measures to be adopted and we will continue the analysis of prevention tools and redefining the corporate culture, as desired by the whole SSR. The situation we are facing is a sign of unease and we will have to learn from it, know how to turn the page so that such unacceptable drifts no longer occur. ”

The safeguard of the cultural offer of the RSI is also among the ambitious projects of Mario Timbal, who guaranteed the continuity of the second radio channel, whose offer seemed compromised: “I firmly believe, he said. , that Rete 2, with its cultural flow, represents a unique service for Italian Switzerland and must be maintained. ”


1977 Born in Locarno.

2000 Bachelor of Arts from the University of Lausanne.

2012 Marriage to Ivana.

2013 Co-director of the Locarno Film Festival.

2017 Director of the Luma Foundation, in Arles.

2021 Director of the Radiotelevisione della Svizzera italiana (RSI).

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