Mediaset mulls digital funding boost

Company may add $1.35 billion to kitty

MILAN — Mediaset, the Italo broadcaster controlled by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, may invest another €1 billion ($1.35 billion) in making the switchover from analog to digital TV, it has emerged.

The group’s finance chief Marco Giordano said that a sum of €500m ($675 million) to €1 billion ($1.35 million) would be spent on completing the process, which is due to finish by 2012. The amount is on top of the €2 billion ($2.7 billion) it has spent already.

On Wednesday this week, 600 towns in the northern region of Piedmonte will go digital. And by the close of 2009, 30% of Italy, including the big metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples, will have made the switchover.

And next month, Mediaset teams up with Italo pubcaster RAI to launch the Tivu Sat digital TV platform to counter Sky Italia, and to boost digital reception quality for viewers in mountainous areas.

In order to recoup the investment, Mediaset has announced a series of promotions to inform potential customers that the switchover to digital will also enable them to access the company’s lucrative Premium Gallery pay TV services.