WB in deal for Italo primetime

ROME — Until now, local television in Italy has meant low-budget tele-shopping, endless reruns of old American TV serials or, at best, “Colpo Grosso,” the infamous latenight strip-poker gameshow on Italia 7.

But now Italia 7 and two new ad hoc networks, Amica 8 and Amica 9, have signed an agreement with an advertising sales organization called DAPS, which is investing some $ 30 million in firstrun syndicated programming production and acquisition.

DAPS has signed an exclusive three-year barter deal with Warner Bros. Intl. TV for a programming package destined for primetime on the three ad hoc networks. DAPS will supply each ad hoc web with a different six-hour programming bloc, complete with national ad spots, built around a mix of WB product and firstrun productions exclusive to DAPS.

DAPS billed $ 20 million in ads last year and produced “Free Zone,” Italy’s maiden firstrun syndicated talkshow, which was carried by 84 local channels. According to DAPS manager Giampiero Ades, the local ad market in Italy (including TV shopping) is worth $ 299 million based on station revenues declared by local channels to Italy’s Broadcasting Authority.

With growth in ad spending shrinking for the second year in a row, media buyers are looking for smarter and more effective ways to spend their clients’ ad dollars. RAI and Fininvest have always insisted on national ad buys, making it extremely expensive and difficult for clients to target local audiences. But DAPS is selling airtime on the three ad hoc webs by region, enabling investors to target their audiences with greater accuracy.

* * *

Australia: Roadshow looks to high-tech future

SYDNEY — Will the videocassette become obsolete in a few years, superseded by superior technology?

Milt Barlow, upped last week from managing director to the new role of president/CEO of Australia’s Roadshow Entertainment, thinks so.

That’s one reason Barlow, with his new responsibility for Roadshow Entertainment’s worldwide operations, is betting much of the division’s future on new technology.

Barlow’s enhanced status signals parent company Village Roadshow’s plans to parlay Roadshow Entertainment into a global brand of home entertainment software.

The key to the expansion has been the success of RE’s “Nightmare: The Video Board Game,” which has sold more than 2 million units globally, with a retail value of $ 50 million.

Barlow says the plan is to release a mix of board games, electronic games, music, CD-ROM and videocassette product in the U.S. and Europe via many of the strategic alliances developed on “Nightmare” (“Atmosfear” in Europe).

RE has a first-look deal with Ingram Entertainment, the U.S. distrib of “Nightmare,” on any home entertainment product Roadshow intends to release in North America.

Barlow also will oversee the new division Roadshow New Media, which will introduce CD-ROM and CD-Interactive in Australia and New Zealand. “Nightmare” will go out on CD-ROM, CD-I and Nintendo Super-NES worldwide in the third quarter of this year.

Noting it takes time and money to develop new media software, Barlow says he won’t be deluging any market with product. “We’re laying the foundations for the future, which may not kick in (financially) for a few years,” he says.

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