Fiat’s RCS Video Charts Euro Plan

RCS Video, the new audiovisual division of the Rizzoli-Corriere Delia Sera publishing house, unveiled two deals last week as part of a longterm plan to become one of Europe’s major producers and distributors of tv and homevideo product.

RCS Video, along with subsidiaries RCS Produzioni (production), RCS Homevideo and RCS Broadcasting, are owned by Fiat.

RCS Video managing director Luca Di Montezemolo announced Feb. 9 that the company had increased its share in private network TF1 from 2% to 4%, tightening RCS Video’s strategic alliance with France’s top ranking web. Montezemolo specified that RCS Video did not purchase the TF1 shares from media baron Robert Maxwell – who is unloading his 12.6% stake in the web in an effort to reduce Maxwell Communication Corp.’s substantial debt – and has no interest in acquiring Maxwell’s share.

The RCS Video-TFl alliance is intended to guarantee a secure outlet at TF1 for product from RCS Produzioni. For the same reasons, RCS Video (through its tv arm RCS Broadcasting) will acquire small but significant minority shares in other leading private webs across Europe: Nets in Spain and Great Britain are next on the list.

Idea is to build a pan-European network of alliances that guarantees an outlet for RCS Video’s future tv productions and co-productions while avoiding the mountain of debt usually incurred by investing in private webs. At the same time, the company plans to increase its production output substantially in next two years.

For the moment, however, RCS Video’s primary strength lies in homevideo distribution in Italy, where the company controls 25% of the market through its three labels Vivivideo, Panarecord and the mail-order Club del Video.

Di Montezemolo aims to increase that market share by treating homevid like any other consumer product, making cassettes widely available through a variety of channels – bookshops, department stores, door-to-door and mail order – other than the traditional neighborhood homevideo shops.

RCS Video announced an exclusive new sell-through pact Feb. 14 with Italy’s leading department store, Rinascente, as well as other top merchandising chains Upim (discount), Croff (home furnishing) and Cittamercato (supermarkets). Sell-through cassettes on the three RCS Video labels, as well as titles from other U.S. majors including RCA/Columbia, will be available in more than 100 sales points by June, said Di Montezemolo.

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