Berlusconi victory gets mixed reaction

Mediaset execs ecstatic but indies feel heat

Is Silvio Berlusconi‘s electoral victory last week bad news for Italy’s entertainment industry? Depends who you ask.

Execs at the mogul’s Mediaset TV empire are ecstatic, with CEO Fedele Confalonieri cheering that the outgoing center-left government will no longer be able to brandish TV legislation “as a political weapon, and for blackmail.”

But the mood in Italy’s film community was mostly downcast after Berlusconi’s opponent Walter Veltroni, the leftist film-buff former mayor who launched the Rome Film Fest, lost by a wider margin — nine percentage points — than almost anyone expected.

“The market will become even more dominated by Mediaset and RAI and by Rupert Murdoch‘s Sky Italia. It’s going to get tougher for us indies,” predicts producer Fulvio Lucisano.

“Veltroni being a cinephile made him a friend of the industry,” says Mikado’s Francesco Melzi d’Eril. “But that doesn’t mean Berlusconi will be an enemy. We’ll see if he implements the production tax breaks we’ve been awaiting for 40 years, which had just been passed by the previous government.”

Execs at RAI are bracing for a seismic shakeup; Berlusconi meddled in its affairs during his previous stint, famously removing unfriendly journos.

Rome’s film fest is not expected to suffer, at least not immediately. But an April 27 runoff for Rome mayor, in which outgoing culture czar Francesco Rutelli faces right-winger Gianni Alemanno, could be key to keep Veltroni’s baby growing strong.

Berlusconi’s third term as prime minister is likely to mean new glory for his ailing A.C. Milan soccer team, which is eerily known to thrive when he’s in power. The day after his victory, Berlusconi found time to announce that A.C Milan was in final negotiations to buy star striker Ronaldinho from Real Madrid.

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