News Corp./Telecom Italia venture's future questioned as CEO ankles

MILAN — Despite the greenlight from the Euro Commission Friday, the future of the News Corp./Telecom Italia-backed pay TV operator Stream seems increasingly gloomy.

Stream CEO and general director Riccardo Catalani resigned recently only six months from the day he took up the post. He was replaced last week by Lucia Morselli, a former exec at Stream rival Telepiu.

Catalani was not the only exec to abandon the pay TV company. In the last few days, Mauro Pinelli resigned from his post as commercial general director and marketing director Paolo Badriga also left the company. The second marketing director Giglio Del Borgo is expected to leave soon.

The managers’ escape followed financial losses which reached $225 million in the nine months ending March 2000.

Facing objections

Recently Telecom’s CEO Nicola Colaninno said he was not satisfied with Stream’s performance while Murdoch, who is planning to include all his satellite TV holdings in a new unit called Platco, is facing objections from Vivendi.

The Gallic conglom, which controls a 24% stake in Murdoch’s pay TV company BSkyB, said it would be prepared to exchange this stake for a 10%-12% stake in Platco but only if Stream were not a part of it.

After Vittorio Cecchi Gori and Italy’s soccer consortium Tps sold their minority stakes in Stream earlier this year, Murdoch and Colaninno looked for new partners.

France’s TF1 was believed to be a candidate, but Italy’s government insists on Stream being controlled by a majority of Italian interests. However, no Italian player seems interested in joining the company.

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