Sky Italia launches Babel TV

Channel caters for multi-ethnic community

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia is launching Babel TV, a channel dedicated to Italy’s growing multiethnic community, broadening the paybox’s potential audience base just as it has returned to subscriber growth.

Babel will cater to Italian viewers originally from Latin America, Romania, the Philippines, Albania, Africa and Ukraine, with a dedicated day for each group. Its “Babzine” news service will broadcast daily in many languages.

The channel kicks off Monday with Laura Halilovic’s docu “Me, My Gypsy Family and Woody Allen,” about tough conditions for Gypsies in Italy.

Babel TV was launched at a Rome presser Thursday where Sky Italia CEO Tom Mockridge blasted Italy’s Auditel TV ratings service for “ignoring the community of immigrants residing in Italy.”

Sky Italia is also launching several other channels this month, including Easy Baby, dedicated to parents with small children, and lifestyle and food web Arturo.

News Corp.’s fiscal first-quarter results on Wednesday showed that Sky Italia is increasing subscribers, now at 4.8 million, with 58,000 new additions in the quarter, compared with zero growth a year ago.

“We’ve begun to recapture some of the growth we had before the challenges of Berlusconi that we had in the past 12 months-plus,” said News Corp. COO Chase Carey, referring to media mogul and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s rival Mediaset Premium pay TV service.

It now has more than 4 million smart-card customers after launching in 2008.

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