Territory report: Italy

Lire crunch impacts pick-ups

MILAN — Italy is feeling the recessionary pinch from softer ad revenues and reduced budgets for practically everything.

At the same time, Silvio Berlusconi’s election as prime minister and Vittorio Cecchi Gori’s exit from the TV business are starting to have effects on the TV landscape.

Expect broadcasters to favor local shows and to be very choosy at international markets because of the economic squeeze.

“Everybody is trying to spend less this year. We expect our revenues to decrease by 600 billion lire ($285 million) and we are reviewing all our expenditures,” says Roberto Pace, head of Mediaset’s unit for production and distribution Mediatrade.

Meanwhile, the tycoon-turned-politico Berlusconi has maintained full control of Fininvest (including TV unit Mediaset and film company Medusa) despite criticism of his alleged conflict of interest and pressure on him to sell the company.

Cecchi Gori’s sale last year of his beleaguered TV company TeleMonteCarlo to Telecom Italia unit Seat has backfired in the wake of a deal by Telecom to sell Seat and TMC to tire company Pirelli. TMC is in effect up for sale again.

Pubcaster RAI is in a holding pattern, waiting for February when a new board close to the Berlusconi cabinet is expected to be appointed. In the meantime, RAI is being more cautious than ever.

Italy’s pay TV operators Stream and Telepiu, which announced a merger earlier this year, are working on the union but continue to operate as separate entities.

TV homes:25 million

Cable homes:60,000

Satellite homes:2.6 million

Local programming:70%

Top show:Canale5 “Grande Fratello,” Italo version of “Big Brother” (60%+ share)

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