RAI sells TV unit to RCS

Group to develop, launch two niche channels

MILAN — Italy’s pubcaster RAI has sold a stake in one of its TV units to a private company, paving the way for further privatization of the state-owned media group.

The buyer is Italy’s leading publishing house, Rizzoli-Corriere della Sera (RCS), owner of bestselling national daily paper Corriere della Sera, which acquired a 5% stake in RAI’s digital unit RAISat.

Niche channels

RCS prexy Cesare Romiti said that his group will develop and launch two niche channels to be distributed on Telepiu’s digital service, D+. Telepiu is Italy’s leading digital TV platform, and RAI is a minor shareholder in the company. RAISat already produces six theme-based TV channels for D+ and more are to be launched in the next few months.

According to Romiti, RCS may also acquire a stake in Telepiu, which is currently controlled by French pay TV giant Canal Plus.

Italy’s electricity company ENEL recently purchased a 30% stake in Telepiu, and RAI is expected to buy up to 10%.

If RCS acquires at least 10% in the pay TV operator, Canal Plus will no longer be its majority shareholder — a positive outcome for the Gallic group with respect to its industrial and financial alliances and also for Italy’s government, which would finally see Telepiu in Italian hands.

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