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ITALY ADDS 4 MOS. TO TV LICENSES

MILAN – Italy’s center-left government and the right-wing opposition led by Silvio Berlusconi have agreed on a plan to extend commercial TV licenses by four months until May 31.

The agreement will enable Berlusconi’s Mediaset to keep its three TV channels at least until that date, despite an Italo media law that would, after Jan. 31, limit the stake of any single company in a national free TV channel to 20%. Without the compromise, Berlusconi would have been forced to give up ownership or transform the nets into pay TV channels.

Under the agreement, the licenses could be extended by another two months if the bill to reform the whole audio-visual sector presented by Post and Telecommunications Minister Antonio Maccanico is approved by at least one of the parliament’s two houses by May 31.

Also under the compromise, the supervisory committee for pubcaster RAI, currently led by the right’s Francesco Storace, will be able to override decisions made by the pubcaster’s board with a two-third vote of its members.

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