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Murdoch, Telecom to take Gori stakes

Group likely to be divided into three companies

MILAN — Global mogul Rupert Murdoch and Italy’s telco giant Telecom Italia are in final negotiations with Vittorio Cecchi Gori to buy part of his media group, Italy’s top film producer and distributor, Cecchi Gori said in published reports.

“With these two new partners, we’ll be able to face international competitors on an equal footing,” Cecchi Gori said.

According to Cecchi Gori, his group probably will be divided into three companies. Only last year, the sports, TV and film sectors were unified in a single structure for financial reasons. The first company will control all TV business, including Cecchi Gori’s beleaguered channels TMC and TMC2 and his minority stake in digital platform Stream. The second will own all the film production, distribution and exhibition activities of the Florence-based group. The third will have his sports business, which is mainly soccer team Fiorentina.

Picking out pieces

Telecom Italia is expected to acquire a minority stake in just the TV company, but Murdoch will become a minority partner of both the television and film companies, and probably will create with Cecchi Gori a 50-50 joint venture to produce TV drama and films in Italy and in Europe. Some U.S. investment is expected for this venture, he said.

With a strong national player in the pay and free TV sectors, and in film and TV production, the long-established duopoly of Mediaset and RAI finally would have to face a strong competitor.