Riva, who was born in Lugano in 1935, had studied law in Bern. In 1966 he joined the radio and television of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.
Until 1975 he was Head of the Information Department, then Head of Programming Information and from 1982 Director of Programming Services in the SRG General Management in Berne. At the beginning of 1988, Riva succeeded Leo Schürmann as SRG Director General.
Riva had always distinguished himself through his diplomatic skills and had strengthened SRG's role in the international network, the SRG statement said. He had provided access to Eurosport, Euronews and Arte, and had worked to expand SRG's foreign service at the time, Schweizer Radio International (SRI), as well as to position the former Teletext AG strongly.(SDA)