MTV Italia carriage at risk

Rete-A signs with Germany's Viva to launch channel

MILAN — Viacom music channel MTV Italia has hit a sour note: Its carrier, Rete-A, has signed with Germany’s Viva to launch a Viva Italia channel.

Rete-A hopes linking with a Euro partner will help it qualify for a national broadcasting license. It was refused one earlier this year based on suspicions that it is controlled by a U.S. company; the Media Authority is still investigating.

Contractual matter

“The agreement we have with Rete-A will expire at the end of 2001,” MTV said Monday. “According to this agreement, only MTV can be aired on Rete-A frequencies and only MTV has the right to break the contract before the expiring date if the network is not allotted a national broadcasting permit.”

MTV Italia’s free 24-hour music channel was launched in 1997 on frequencies owned by minor national TV channel Rete-A, belonging to publisher Peruzzo.

Since then it has increased its programming in Italian to 70% of airtime and become the second most popular channel among 15- to 18-year-olds after Mediaset’s Italia 1.

Lucrative outlet

The music web averages 4.5 million viewers daily, and with annual revenues of 100 billion lire ($45 million), it is the second most profitable MTV channel among the 38 worldwide, after the U.S. service.

In October MTV started talks with national broadcaster TeleMontecarlo but a deal has not been signed.

Cologne-based Viva also has local-languages services in Poland and Switzerland.

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