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Digital TV key to ending duopoly

RAI and Mediaset account for nearly 88% of viewers

ROME — Italy’s new media regulator said Thursday that the duopoly of pubcaster RAI and commercial rival Mediaset could be broken only by the introduction of digital terrestrial TV.

In his first parliamentary speech, Antonio Calabro, head of the Italian Communications Authority, said RAI and Mediaset account for nearly 75% of the TV advertising pie and 88% of viewers.

RAI reaps 39.9% of ad resources while Mediaset gets 33.8%, according to the reg. The two webs run neck-and-neck in the ratings.

Italy’s third terrestrial player is Telecom Italia-owned La 7, which holds a 2% market share.

Calabro said News Corp.’s Sky Italia, the country’s single paybox, has consolidated its position as the third TV player with a 19% share of the TV advertising market.

Rather than urge new legislation to foster competition, Calabro said terrestrial digital TV would promote pluralism.

Italy plans to switch from analog to terrestrial digital in 2006. However, as only 2 million of the country’s 22 million TV homes have digital decoders, analysts consider 2010 a more likely year for the transition.

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