Italo rivals working out digital pact

MILAN — Top execs of Italo major broadcasters RAI and Mediaset, state-owned telco Stet and French pay TV giant Canal Plus will meet in Rome today to close an agreement for a single digital platform, industry sources said. An announcement is expected by the end of this week.

The new alliance will bring together for the first time arch-rivals RAI and Mediaset, and will involve a new shareholding structure for Telepiu, Italy’s sole pay TV operation. That paybox is currently controlled by Canal Plus and Kirch, with 45% each, and by Mediaset’s holding company Fininvest, which holds the remaining 10%.

On Monday, Kirch and Bertelsmann agreed to collaborate on paybox Premiere in Germany and to buy out the stake in Premiere held by Canal Plus. In turn, Kirch is expected to sell its shares in Telepiu to RAI and Stet. Canal Plus will keep its stake in Telepiu below 50%. Stet has given up its plans to launch a rival cable digital TV operation.

A new company will be created by the four partners in Telepiu to harmonize existing transmission technologies and decoders.

By September, RAI and Mediaset will be able to launch thematic channels on the Telepiu platform.

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