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Rupe grows Italo prod’n

De Santis to head operation

ROME – Two years after Rupert Murdoch became Italy’s sole pay TV player, his Sky Italia paybox and sister company Fox Italia have set up a local film and TV production unit.

Former Sky general director Osvaldo De Santis will head the operation, which marks a “strong commitment to invest in (local) film and TV productions and to provide more opportunities to Italian talent, directors, authors and producers,” said Fox and Sky Italia in a statement on Thursday.

New venture’s budget and slate were not revealed.

Rome-based De Santis will report to Christian Grass, exec VP of 20th Century Fox Europe, and to Sky Italia managing director Tom Mockridge.

A year ago Sky Italia agreed to invest E46 million ($55.6 million) in homegrown pics over two years. That did not quash growing complaints from Italy’s industry that Murdoch uses his monopoly to drive down prices, depriving it of a crucial source of moolah.

Filmmakers also can tap coin from Medusa and RAI Cinema, the film sister companies of, respectively, broadcaster Mediaset and pubcaster RAI.

Warner Bros. has financed two or three Italian films a year for the past couple of years. Sony Pictures Entertainment recently made its first foray into local production with steamy teen pic “Melissa P.”

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