La7 to bow low-cost programs

Sked to include 6 hours of newscasts, art films, travel programs

MILAN — Hard-up TV web La7, previously TeleMonteCarlo, will bow its cut-price programming March 11.

The content will be “perhaps poor, but clever and high quality,” Paolo del Pino, CEO of main shareholder Seat Pagine Gialle, said Monday.

La7 will have a yearly budget of 150 billion lire ($67 million), a quarter earmarked to the six hours of newscasts skedded per day. It will also show art films and travel programs.

Two years ago Telecom Italia bought TeleMonteCarlo from producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori, planning to relaunch it as La7, a cash-rich youth-skewed channel to challenge the TV duopoly of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset and pubcaster RAI, which control over 95% of Italy’s TV audience revenues.

But Telecom Italia was taken over by cable and tire giant Olivetti and textile group Benetton in August, and they decided to transform it into a low-budget news web.

La7, which has two channels, has a 2% national audience share. It airs in 80% of Italy.

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