Telecom Italia to sell TV unit

Company owns Italy's third terrestrial TV player

ROME — Top Italo telco Telecom Italia is spinning off and selling its Telecom Italia Media TV unit, the country’s third terrestrial TV player, which comprises booming generalist station LA7 and MTV Italy.

Negotiations are underway with Viacom regarding MTV’s Italo channel, and also the Nickelodeon and Comedy Central channels, aired on Sky Italia, in which the two groups are partners.

Prospective buyers for LA7, and other group assets, are said to include Franco Tunisian entrepreneur Tarak Ben Ammar, Italian publishing group L’Espresso, and Cairo Communications, which sells Telecom Italia Media ads.

LA7 in past years has more than doubled its ratings to a current roughly 4% average share of Italy’s national audience,

The sale, and subsequent relaunch, is expected to shake up Italy’s terrestrial TV landscape, currently dominated by pubcaster RAI and Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, which are both steadily losing ratings and revenues.

Telecom Italia Media, which took a $107 million loss in fiscal 2011, is considered worth around $207 million.

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