Mediaset mixes it up

Italy

ROME — The Italian TV market is becoming more self-sufficient — perhaps even incestuous — following Mediaset’s recent Endemol acquisition and RAI’s tilt toward homegrown goods.

Looking to diversify into TV production, Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset led the consortium that in May won the bid for Endemol, which paradoxically has been a major product provider to pubcaster RAI, its main competitor.

While Mediaset’s flagship Canale 5 won’t be airing any Endemol fare until January, when the eighth edition of rock-solid “Big Brother” bows, Mediaset vice chairman Piersilvio Berlusconi recently said he soon will be tapping into the new pipeline. At the same time, the younger Berlusconi is eager for Endemol to keep selling to his rivals.

Meanwhile, the fall season will bring to primetime slots on Mediaset’s youth-oriented Italia Uno such Hollywood skeins as “House” and “Ugly Betty,” while RAI’s similarly skewed RAI Due will prominently play “Cold Case” and “NCIS.” U.S. shows are also ratings drivers on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia paybox.

At RAI itself, however, the accent is on Europe, with much being made of upcoming mega Lux/RAI Euro co-production “War and Peace,” the jewel of its expanding RAI Fiction drama unit that in 2006 aired more than 400 hours of mostly homegrown stories (to the tune of nearly $400 million). Local drama long ago ousted U.S. movies from primetime; the question now is whether skeins like “War” can sell globally.

TOP 3

1. Striscia La Notizia (Mediaset)

2. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Mediaset)

3. Deal or No Deal (RAI)

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