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Mediaset’s Alice takes on Murdoch

Berlusconi pacts with Telecom Italia

ROME — Italo Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset is entering the IPTV arena by pacting with Telecom Italia to launch premium content on the telco’s Alice Home TV.

Two Mediaset packages — one comprising Hollywood skeins including “House,” “Law & Order” and “Heroes” plus kiddie channels including Cartoon Network; the other featuring Serie A and Champion’s League soccer — will debut Wednesday on Alice.

Mediaset’s pact continues attempts by the commercial webs to counter growing competition from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia paybox.

Mediaset already operates Mediaset Premium, a one-year-old, card-operated pay TV service on digital terrestrial TV that offers the same content it will now also sell on Alice. These are mostly shows the web has acquired via massive multi-year deals with Warner Bros. and Universal.

Mediaset claims Mediaset Premium reaches almost 3 million customers, while Sky has some 4.8 million subs.

The IPTV pact with Telecom Italia is strategic rather than a prelude to the possible merger being suggested recently in the Italian press.

Telecom Italia topper Franco Bernabe said Tuesday that a merger with Mediaset would “create a monopoly on a media distribution platform that would never be allowed.”

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