Mediaset cools on Sky Italia deal

Premium Gallery taken off the table

MILAN — Italo TV giant Mediaset said Wednesday it will not allow rival Sky Italia to carry its Premium Gallery pay TV channels.

“Since we didn’t reach an agreement on price, and we are pretty happy about the premium package results, we have decided we won’t give these channels to Sky,” Mediaset VP Piersilvio Berlusconi said.

The news may signal a cooling off in relations between rival media scions Pier Silvio, son of Italian premier and Mediaset owner Silvio Berlusconi, and Sky Italia boss James Murdoch, son of News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch.

Mediaset has upped the competition with Sky Italia by adding Disney Channel and a premium sports station to its Premium Gallery pay TV package starting from July.

Berlusconi noted, however, that talks over “sport and other content that Mediaset may provide to Sky” would continue.

Meanwhile, Mediaset last night sought to downplay market gloom over its finances by claiming ad revenues were up between 2% and 3% in the first half of 2008.

Shares in the company, owned by Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi had dived 5% Tuesday over fears of the weakening economic outlook.

But analysts shrugged off the announcement. Alessandro Bai-Badino of Deutsch Bank told Variety: “We already knew the first-quarter ad revenues were up. Let’s wait and see what the September, October and November figures are like.”

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