Global economy puts pinch on Italy

Pay TV monopoly may be relief for distribs

ROME — Italian indies are purchasing prudently as the market’s TV sector adjusts to recent restructuring and continues to feel the effects of the advertising slump. Local distribs are shelling out between 4%-8% of film budgets for Italo rights, as compared with roughly 10% in previous years.

State pubcaster RAI established a fresh board in March, ending a period of political turmoil. And Italo pay TV is under the control of one owner, Rupert Murdoch, after the EU approved the formation of Sky Italia, a merger of Vivendi’s Telepiu and News Corp.’s Stream.

How the creation of a pay TV monopoly will impact the territory is still unknown, but local distribs seem relatively relieved.

“I prefer having one strong pay TV company with lots of spectators,” reasons Ernesto Di Sarro, prexy of Nexo, which handled the Italo rollout of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” “I am moderately optimistic for the future, discreetly pessimistic about the current situation.”

Meanwhile, free TV continues to feel the global economic pinch.

“It not like the good old days of Italian TV when they bought everything at higher prices. Now they are more selective and the prices are lower,” says Maria Grazia Vairo, head of acquisitions at indie distrib Eagle Pictures.