RAI, Crown Castle close in on deal

Move should bring Italo channel to $450 mil

U.S.-owned Crown Castle Intl. and Italy’s pubcaster RAI are close to inking an agreement for the sale of a 49% stake in RaiWay, the company that controls the transmission network of RAI.

According to Claudio Cappon, RAI’s new director general, the sale should bring the pubcaster up to $450 million. Crown Castle operates in Europe through its U.K. unit.

The RaiWay sale is the first privatization of the state-owned TV group. A sweeping reform that could lead to a much larger privatization is still to be finalized by Parliament.

Also, RAI plans to launch RAI-MED, an Italo-Arabic digital satellite channel for the Mediterranean basin, in April. The new channel will air programs broadcast by RAI digital and over-the-air channels, including news shows and documentaries.

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