With channels to fill, shopping awaits

Territory report: Italy

A proliferation of new satellite TV channels and an unwavering interest in American imports for primetime slots mean Italians heading to Mipcom in October will be in a mood to shop.

“Basically, we won’t be closing any doors. We are always looking for new products,” says Fabrizio Salini, VP of entertainment for Fox Intl. Channels Italy. The News Corp. unit launched two entertainment channels in Italy in the past year — Fox Crime and FX — and is looking to fill the extra slots with a variety of programming; genres of interest include drama and reality shows, and the content could come from the U.S., across Europe and emerging markets.

“It has to be innovative,” Salini adds. “We would like, for example, a new reality format, something that, ideally speaking, would remind one of ‘Sex and the City,’ if such a thing exists.”

The ratings success of “Lost” (RAI-2 and Fox) and “Desperate Housewives” (RAI-2 and FoxLife) last year also has buyers curious to see the latest series on tap from the U.S. and Britain. But there is also a good deal of caution. Nobody wants to bring home another “Rome,” the HBO-produced historical drama that scored low ratings for state pubcaster RAI-2.

Still, the interest in American and British imports is as high today as it has been at any point in the past five years, buyers say. Not surprisingly, acquisition budgets continue to grow, according to many Mipcom attendees.

One area that is not getting much attention is films, particularly from terrestrial broadcasters. Paying big for Hollywood blockbusters is a thing of the past, primarily because Italian broadcasters, led by RAI, have been steadily reinvesting in locally produced programming.

Luca Milano, head of marketing and animation at RAI Fiction, says last year the production arm of the state pubcaster developed 700 hours of programming, nearly twice as much as produced five years ago.

“We had a big year with 18 of the top 20-rated entertainment programs,” he says, including a miniseries about Pope John Paul II that earned a 44% share.

TOP 3 SHOWS

  1. “John Paul II,” RAI-1

  2. “The Man Who Dreamed With Eagles,” RAI-1

  3. “Gino Bartali, the Eternal One,” RAI-1
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