Local advantage

2nd Italo digital stage to go native

ROME — After resuming talks in Milan on Tuesday regarding the establishment of Italy’s second digital satellite platform, national pubcaster RAI and Telecom Italia have issued a joint statement underlining that the initiative will be a majority Italian venture.

The announcement stands to put an end to reports that began circulating in July and which brought the negotiations to a standstill, indicating that Rupert Murdoch was looking at the possibility of coming in on Telecom’s pay TV venture Stream via his BSkyB satcaster.

Political opposition to the suggestion of the non-Italian media mogul colonizing Italy’s digital arena has been vehement. RAI director general Pierluigi Celli also reportedly is opposed to Murdoch’s involvement.

With Italy’s existing digital platform controlled by Canal Plus-owned paybox Telepiu, a push is under way to keep the second platform in national hands. If the talks continue in this direction, Telecom and RAI will have a 51% stake in the platform, which will transmit primarily soccer and sports programs and firstrun films. The Cecchi Gori Group also is expected to be involved as a minority partner.

Foreign partners likely will still be welcomed into the deal, but these will be European companies strictly with minority stakes, probably making the proposal less attractive to Murdoch.

Telecom has called its first board meeting for Sept. 24, when a new CEO is expected to be appointed and plans for the digital platform will undergo further discussion.

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