Italo auds get religion

Long-awaited catholic satcaster launches

MILAN — A long-awaited satcaster backed by the Catholic Church launched Monday, making it the first national religious channel ever created in Italy.

Sat2000, which is free to viewers, is part of pubcaster RAI’s digital bouquet on the Eutelsat Hot Bird 2. The official backer of the channel is the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI).

The channel also will be aired on the existing terrestrial network created by 108 local Catholic TV stations.

For the first few months, the channel — defined by CEI as a “digital thematic cultural channel of Christian values” — will broadcast 15 hours of programming each day. Its aim is to produce at least eight hours of original programming a day, including gameshows, sitcoms and news.

According to industry sources, the cost for launching Sat2000 is estimated at $12 million, which will be financed by donations.

Several well-known Italian TV personalities have signed on for Sat2000, including former RAI and TeleMontecarlo exec Emmanuele Milano, who was appointed general director of the network; film director Pupi Avati; and journalists Michele Santoro, Paolo Mieli, Sergio Zavoli and Igor Man.

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