Expansion to be b'casting or selling pix, TV formats

MILAN — Italy’s leading broadcaster, Mediaset, will stretch itself again after the lackluster year that hit almost all Euro media groups.

So says Mediaset prexy Fedele Confalonieri, who elaborated on the company’s plans in an interview Monday with Rome-based daily La Repubblica. “The year 2001 is not among the best ones we’ve had, but I cannot complain,” he said, denying that Mediaset lost audience last year.

“For the first time in the history of Italian television, our flagship Canale 5 was the leading one in terms of primetime share, beating RAI 1. Our three channels reached a combined 43.2% share compared (with) 42.2% in 2000.”

Confalonieri, who is media mogul and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s closest associate in the company, said the new strategy will be based on expansion. Mediaset will grow abroad by either operating as a broadcaster in another country “if politics allow us to do it” or by selling films, TV shows and reality formats.

Among the territories the group would like to enter is Russia. “It’s a very interesting market, but we have only some contacts with NTV at the moment,” Confalonieri said.

Along with territorial expansion, Mediaset plans massive use of new technology, including broadband, mobile telephones and digital transmission.

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