Italo Media Mogul Berlusconi Regains Political Power

His PDL party secures seats in government, Mediaset preps Netflix-style distrib

ROME — Italy got a new government on Sunday, sealing Silvio Berlusconi’s stunning political comeback with key posts for his PDL party just as his Mediaset TV empire is prepping to launch into digital content distribution, possibly pre-empting Netflix’s bow in Italy.

Enrico Letta, a center-left PD party member, was sworn in as prime minister, heading a bi-partisan coalition with the conservative PDL. This ends a two-month stalemate after February’s elections produced no clear winner but brought Berlusconi, battered after three stints as prime minister, back from the political graveyard.

Letta’s uncle, Gianni Letta, is Berlusconi’s right-hand-man. Though they are in very different political camps, they are now government allies which can only be to Berlusconi’s advantage.

“He’s a person with solid credibility: I like him,” Mediaset VP Piersilvio Berlusconi said of Letta at an April 24 Mediaset shareholders meeting in Milan where CEO Fedele Confalonieri announced plans for a Netflix-style service operational by year’s end.

Exec called it “a service with no equals in Italy, providing an incredible amount of content visible online, on personal computers, tablets and new generation TVs.”

Confalonieri has lately been ranting against Google, Amazon and Apple “for not paying proper taxes in Italy,” referring to the fact that the local services are fiscally based outside Italy. He has urged pols to “allow Mediaset to compete with these American companies on a level playing field.”

While Netflix last year announced it was hiring Italian translators, indicating plans to set up an Italo outpost, this has yet to happen.

Confalonieri and Berlusconi Jr. have recently denied reports that Mediaset’s DTT pay TV operation is for sale, while not ruling out partnerships with foreign players.

Bucking the country’s general trend, revenues at Mediaset’s pay TV Mediaset Premium service were up 10% for the first quarter of 2013 with subs at roughly 2 million. Some 40,000 to 50,000 new families per month signed up for its Premium Play on demand offer, which now has 1.2 million subs. It provides a perfect infrastructure for an on-demand Italo onslaught.

Mediaset in March posted €287 million ($374 million) in losses for fiscal 2012, its first annual net loss ever, as companies cut ad spend due to the economic crisis. Ad revenues for January and February 2013 were down 16%. But with the new government in place business for its free-to-air channels is expected to pick up.

More TV

  • Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions,

    Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions, Mostly in Music

    Paradigm has made a significant cut to its staff, laying off about 30 agents and support staff or 4% of its employees, Variety has confirmed. Sources said most of the layoffs were in the music area at the agency and took place Friday.. Paradigm, which had about 700 employees prior to the layoffs, had no [...]

  • Edward Burns'Alex Cross' film premiere, Los

    Edward Burns Dramedy, Blumhouse TV Docuseries in Development at Epix

    Epix is eyeing some potential new additions on both the scripted and unscripted front. Network president Michael Wright unveiled Epix’s development slate, which includes two scripted projects and three prospective docuseries, at its Television Critics’ Association winter press tour day. One of the two scripted series hails from Edward Burns who is best known for [...]

  • Kim Kardashian WestFashion Group International's Night

    Kim Kardashian West 'Goes to War' on Mass Incarceration in Documentary Trailer (Watch)

    Kim Kardashian West is going to war on mass incarceration. Oxygen has released the trailer for her documentary “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project,” which sees the media personality declare that “there is a mass incarceration problem in the United States.” The two-hour documentary, premiering Sunday, April 5, captures Kardashian West as she explores the [...]

  • Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of

    Harry and Meghan Will Give Up Royal Titles, Repay U.K. for House Renovation

    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will lose their royal titles of “His Royal Highness” or “Her Royal Highness,” when they step back as senior members of the United Kingdom’s royal family, according to a new statement from Queen Elizabeth and Buckingham Palace. However, the duo will maintain the moniker of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The [...]

  • Grey's Anatomy deaths

    The Top 13 ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Deaths Ranked

    If there’s anyone that knows how to deliver a heart-wrenching death scene, it’s the team behind ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” Created by Shonda Rhimes, the broadcast medical drama came out of the gate in 2005 with literal life and death stakes for its characters. Being set in a hospital meant that mortality was a constant theme [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    'Surviving Jeffrey Epstein' Docuseries Gets Greenlight at Lifetime

    Lifetime has officially ordered the four-hour documentary series “Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.” The announcement was made at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Saturday. The series was originally announced as in development last summer and is expected to air this summer on Lifetime. Hailing from Emmy-winner Robert Friedman’s Bungalow Media + Entertainment, Anne Sundberg [...]

  • Lorena Gallo, Lorena Bobbitt. Documentary subject

    Lorena Bobbitt Biopic Greenlit at Lifetime

    Lorena Bobbitt’s story is getting the biopic treatment. Lifetime has greenlit “I Was Lorena Bobbitt,” a feature about the woman who became a household name and made tabloid headlines when she cut off her husband’s penis with a knife in 1993 after years of abuse. Bobbitt was the subject of a Jordan Peele-produced Amazon docuseries [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content