Vatican TV breaks off sat pact

MILAN — Italy’s first national religious TV channel, “TeleVaticano,” as national media dubbed it, will not start broadcasting at the end of November on Telepiu’s digital satellite package as widely expected, industry sources said.

The Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), which owns the channel, and pay TV operation Telepiu broke off the preliminary agreement they signed in August, sources said.

CEI is now in discussions with pubcaster RAI about the leasing of one of RAI’s digital channels on Eutelsat satellite Hot Bird 2. TeleVaticano’s launch is now expected in 1998.

The religious network will air on the existing terrestrial network created by 108 Catholic local TV stations.

CEI gave the channel a starting capital of about $12 million and already hired reporters and executives including former RAI1 and TeleMontecarlo director Emmanuele Milano, who was appointed general director of the new network, and Italian film director Pupi Avati.

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