Cecchi Gori Deal Thrusts Producer Onto B’cast Map

Italy’s top film producer/distribber Vittorio Cecchi Gori emerged last week as a new force in Italy’s turbulent broadcast landscape.

After months of negotiation, Cecchi Gori reached an agreement to buy VideoMusic for $50 million, a vidclip music channel founded by the Tuscany-based Marcucci family in 1984. The channel boasts an audience of 9 million among young viewers but covers only about 70% of the country.

Two weeks ago Marialina Marcucci resigned as VideoMusic president, opening the way for the sale of the last TV holding of her family. The Marcuccis already had sold London-based Super Channel and Italian weblet Tele Elefante,

Cecchi Gori, who owns Italy’s biggest film library, has announced that VideoMusic will be transformed into an entertainment, sports and news channel.

VideoMusic’s acquisition is seen by the industry as the first step toward creating a national network, aimed at challenging the TV might of pubcaster RAI and Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest nets. There also are persistent rumors that Cecchi Gori is hoping to buy Berlusconi’s web Rete 4 and may be helped in his plan by TV veteran Ettore Bernabei, who is close to Cecchi Gori politically. Both are Catholic conservatives.

Cecchi Gori’s rise as a TV entrepreneur would, sources say, reinforce the control of the media by right-wing forces.

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