Territory report: Italy

B'casters looking to launch shows for kids and adults

MILAN — Move aside, kids. Broadcasters in Italy are also looking for cartoons that appeal to adults, too.

“We’ll be looking for Japanese productions and kids programs which can also be enjoyed by adults, like ‘The Simpsons’ or ‘South Park,'” says Fabrizio Margaria, new VP of acquisition and coproduction of children’s programming at Mediaset, Prime Minister and media magnate Silvio Burlusconi’s TV holding. “We have already bought all we need until 2003 and at Cannes we will be looking for interesting projects to use after this date.

“Our youth channel Italia1 already has many daytime slots devoted to toons and kids shows and we are launching a new slot at 7:30 p.m. which did well in tests this summer.”

Mediaset’s strongest show is “Dragon Ball Z” while “Pokemon,” last season’s top-rater, is starting to lose ground. Japanese shows remain the favorites in Italy, although there are more U.S. toons on air. There are fewer Italian and Euro productions but the quality of local shows is usually high.

Pubcaster RAI airs kids’ shows on its three channels but mostly on Channel 2.

The state-owned network is less dependent than Mediaset on U.S. and Japanese imports, as it coproduces toons and other content with local indies.

In the new season it will air three coproduced series, including “Sandokan” (World TV and RAIfiction), as well as a news show for kids and teenagers. RAI also relies on foreign toons such as “Digimon” to battle Mediaset’s success with “Pokemon” and “Dragon Ball Z.”

Apart from the main webs, Disney Channel Italy and the national version of Fox Kids serve the local market, but the content is broadly the same as their channels worldwide.

Telco giant Telecom Italia bought TeleMonteCarlo from Vittorio Cecchi Gori last year and tried to relaunch it as a youth-skewed TV channel this month. But the project failed and the channel is up for sale.

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