Homegrown fare flourishes with producing giants

MILAN — Unlike many other territories, Italy’s love story with reality shows was short-lived. After the unexpected success last winter of “Il Grande Fratello,” the Italo version of Dutch format “Big Brother” that reached a 44.5% share on Mediaset’s Canale5, Italians went back to their real passion: homemade TV fiction.

But most of that homegrown fare is increasingly being handled by indies, not Italy’s TV powerhouses: RAI and Mediaset. The two groups, which share most of Italy’s $4 billion TV advertising market, have strengthened their alliances with a batch of independent producers. Their combined commissions for local miniseries, soaps and TV movies in 2000 tallied about $300 million and is expected to increase this year.

The most successful programs were produced by international giants such as Aran-Endemol (soaps “Living” and “One Hundred Shops”) and Pearson TV Italy (soap “A Place in the Sun”), while local companies finding success include Lux Vide (religious series “The Bible” and “Father Pio”), Publispei (“A Doctor in the Family”) and Solaris Cinamatografica (“Marshal Rocca”).

Expect these Italo indies to be on the look out at Mip for fiction formats and, to a lesser degree, game- and variety shows, and reality templates.

The move away from inhouse production at Italy’s TV groups has also prompted some execs to go the indie way. Giorgio Gori, director of Mediaset flagship channel Canale5, is expected to soon depart Silvio Berlusconi’s TV group and set up his own production company or join forces with Pearson. Maurizio Carlotti, former Mediaset CEO, is talking with Spain’s Planete and Italo publisher De Agostini to launch a production company.

TV personalities, such as Maurizio Costanzo, are also creating their own companies.

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