Sky Italia, De Benedetti in talks

Deal could expand reach in Italo terrestrial TV

ROME — Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia satcaster is in talks to expand its access to media group Editoriale L’Espresso’s free-to-air digital terrestrial TV channels.

The negotiations come amid escalating competition between Sky Italia, the leading pay TV platform, and Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, the top commercial-free TV player that also runs Mediaset Premium, a growing DTT pay TV operation.

Sky Italia is already leasing bandwidth for free-to-air channel Cielo from Editoriale L’Espresso, which is owned by Berlusconi’s rival Carlo De Benedetti, who controls left-leaning daily La Repubblica.

Italian merchant bank Mediobanca values the L’Espresso DTT frequencies, which Sky Italia could lease now and buy once anti-trust limits expire in 2012, at €120 million ($167 million). – — Nick Vivarelli

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