Italo media in sync on digital standards

MILAN — After months of discussions, Italy’s major broadcasters and state-owned telco Telecom Italia signed a preliminary agreement Thursday in Rome for the creation of a single digital platform.

The historical agreement, expected to be finalized in the next few days, will bring together Silvio Berlusconi’s TV company, Mediaset; pubcaster RAI; Vittorio Cecchi Gori’s TV group; Italy’s sole pay TV operator, Telepiu; Telepiu’s main shareholder, Canal Plus; state-owned cable TV company Stream; and Telecom Italia.

All these companies will use the same digital standard and box, even if they launch separate digital bouquets.

“This preliminary agreement is a crucial step toward the creation of a single digital platform,” deputy minister for telecommunications Michele Lauria said.

“We all agreed that the platform will be open, meaning that any new partner is welcome, and it will be dominated by Italian companies,” he said.

According to several sources, this means that French TV giant Canal Plus, currently holding 90% of Italy’s only existing digital TV company, Telepiu, has agreed to join forces with Italy’s leading media groups rather than competing against them with a separate platform.

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