SAT-ITALY (ITALIAN SATELLITE AND MEDIA NEWS) - May 30th 1997
ITALIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
As expected, both houses of the Italian Parliament on May 21st and 22nd
approved the new Telecommunications act proposed by the Italian Minister for
posts Antonio Maccanico. The main points of the act are as follows:
An Authority in charge of the telecommunications sector will be set up and
it will have two commissions (for network and infrastructure and for
services and products). Each commission will have 4 members voted by the
Senate and House of Representatives of the Parliament. The President of the
Authority is nominated by the Prime Minister. The Authority will be, among
other things, in charge of assigning the TV and radio frequencies. There are
currently several proposals as to where the Authority will be located -
Milan, Rome, Naples, Venice are the favorites.
The act contains antitrust norms which prohibit one individual or company
from owning more than 20% of the total number of analogue TV channels. The
Authority may also extend this norm to the radio sector. The national
frequency plan for radio stations will be published by December 31st 1998,
while the TV frequency plan will be known by January 31st 1998. By April
30th 1999, the radio frequencies will have to be assigned, while the TV
frequencies for private channels will be assigned a year earlier, that is by
April 30th 1998. Also, one TV company will not be allowed to get more than
30% of the total economic resources intended for the TV market (in plain
terms - advertising and license fees). State television RAI will have to
present a restructuring plan by April 30th 1998 on the basis of which the
new Authority will decide when RAI's third channel RAI Tre will stop
No individual or company will be allowed to own more than one terrestrial
pay-TV channel, but until April 30th 1998 the ownership of two pay-TV
channels will be allowed. After that date the second pay-TV channel can
continue transmitting temporarily only if it also transmits its programs in
parallel via cable or satellite. The new Broadcasting Authority will then
decide on the fate of the channel. By December 31st 1997, the terrestrial
pay-TV channel Tele+3 will have to leave its terrestrial transmitters and
will be available exclusively on satellite. The new norms mean that
Telepiu's second channel will have to leave the terrestrial airwaves by
April 30th 1998. The Authority will also decide when Berlusconi's channel
Rete 4 will have to leave the airwaves and broadcast exclusively via
satellite. That will happen when the majority of Italians has the necessary
reception equipment for digital TV services.
The TV frequencies that will be freed up in this way will be given over to
national TV channels who currently cover less than 90% of the Italian
territory. This norm will principally favor media magnate Vittorio Cecchi
Gori who has been pressing the government for allowing his TV channels TMC
and TMC2/Videomusic access to the much needed frequencies.
The Telecommunications act also stipulates that from January 1998 all new
apartment blocks as well as those under reconstruction will have to install
SMATV reception systems enabling the distribution of satellite and
terrestrial TV channels. The telecommunications market will also be opened
up, allowing more competition, similarly to what has happened in the U.S.
The state telecommunications operator Stet for example will be allowed, from
January 1998, to produce TV programs and launch TV channels which was not
the case up to now. Finally, the current Ministry for posts will change its
name to the Ministry for telecommunications.
RAI SET TO LOOSE 350 MILLION DEM
The director general of RAI, Franco Iseppi, has said that the new
Telecommunications act will penalize the company and will mean a decrease in
revenues amounting to 350 million DEM. In an interview with Italian daily
"Il Messaggero", Iseppi said: "We will have to abolish advertising on one
channel at once and start the restructuring process. RAI Tre has annual
advertising revenues of around 250 million DEM and considering that we will
have to decrease the amount of advertising on the other two TV channels, our
losses will total 350 million DEM a year".
Iseppi has also announced that RAI will be broken up into four smaller
companies in charge of the different segments, transforming itself in this
way into a holding company. There is a strong possibility that this will
also mean that RAI will open itself for foreign investors.
NEWS FROM TELEPIU
After the official announcement that the Italian Parliament has approved the
new Telecommunications Act, the Canal Plus shares on the Paris stock market
have reported a decrease of 1,4%. The Italian government is in fact pressing
all the major media companies operating in Italy to reach an agreement on a
single Italian digital platform. This platform would include Canal Plus
(owns a 45% stake in Telepiu), RAI, Stet, Mediaset and Cecchi Gori Group. If
the project fails and if two rival digital consortiums were to be formed,
hundreds of millions DEM would be thrown away in the battle to buy up the TV
rights to movies, cartoons and sports events on the world market.
Expectations are that by the summer, a result will be known on the future of
digital TV in Italy.
In a separate development, Ubaldo Livolsi, a member of Mediaset's
administrative council has confirmed that his company will soon exercise its
option to take over the 10% stake in Telepiu currently held by Fininvest.
Both companies, Mediaset and Fininvest are owned by Italian media magnate
ITALIAN BISHOPS TV CHANNEL
Talks are currently going under way between the Italian Bishops Conference
(CEI) and the pay-TV network Telepiu which could see a new religious channel
join Telepiu's digital package. CEI has issued an official statement which
says "no agreement has been signed yet" and adds that contacts with other
broadcasters are not excluded. The Italian bishops have said that the new
channel will have a cultural content with a Catholic emphasis and there will
also be news programs and of course live transmissions of the Pope's
audiences and masses on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Currently, CEI produces a religious news program called "Ecclesia" which is
transmitted via satellite to local TV stations throughout Italy. The current
five and a half hours a week of programming will be expanded to 3 hours a
day by the end of the year. The goal is to eventually reach 6-10 hours a
day, the maximum that is allowed by law.
A new satellite channel primarily intended for Italian schools is set to
start broadcasting this September. RAI Educational will initially broadcast
five hours a day, from 14:00-19:00 hours, Monday to Friday. The director of
the new channel will be Federico Sciano.
The new TV channel which is a joint project with the Ministry for education
will be transmitted via satellite to schools who will be equipped to receive
it by the end of the year. There will also be an experimental service,
connecting live in videoconference mode various schools from 12:30-13:30 h.
In that program segment which will be broadcast during the last school
lesson of the day, could also be used to transmit a 10-minute news bulletin
in the Italian language, followed by short news bulletins in foreign
languages such as those from BBC, Euronews, etc.
RAI Educational will continue to transmit part of its programs also via
RAI's three terrestrial TV channels. This service is aimed at students and
teachers at home, but also at interested viewers. They will also be offered
additional services via the Internet as well as videotapes and books.
MEDIASET AND RAI TO COOPERATE
The president of the private TV holding company Mediaset, Fedele
Confalonieri has said that there is a strong possibility of cooperation with
rival TV company RAI, thanks to the approval of the new Telecommunications
Act. Confalonieri said a new era of "peace and cooperation" is opening up
concerning the international market, while the rivalry will continue on the
domestic TV front.
In an interview for the Italian business daily "Il sole 24 ore", RAI's
director-general Franco Iseppi confirmed Confalonieri's words. "There is new
development in comparison to the past. Strong common interests are emerging
among the editors of general entertainment channels..these interests signal
the end of frontal combats and open the way for cooperation in specific
markets, especially pay-TV".
A new thematic satellite channel dedicated to horse races will start
broadcasting on June 16th as part of Telepiu's digital satellite package.
SnaiSat will transmit horse race meetings throughout Italy with a 15 minute
delay, in order not to compete with the special live TV service which is
also transmitted via satellite but only to bookmakers and betting shops in
PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS ON ITALIAN SAT-TV CHANNELS
FOR THE WEEK MAY 25-31
1.VI - RAI UNO, 20:45h - White hearts can't be broken (USA-92), starring:
Gabrielle Anwar, Cliff Robertson
2.VI - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Nobody's fool (USA-94), starring: Paul Newman,
3.VI - RAI TRE, 20:30h - Il burbero (ITA-86), starring: Adriano Celentano,
4.VI - RAI TRE, 20:40h - I pompieri (ITA-85), starring: Massimo Boldi, Paolo
4.VI - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Crimes of passion (USA-94), starring: Adam Storke,
5.VI - RAI DUE, 20:50h - The Boy's club (USA-97), starring: Chris Penn,
6.VI - RAI TRE, 20:40h - Next of kin (USA-89), starring: Patrick Swayze,
7.VI - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Illegal in blue (USA-95), starring: Dan Gauthier,
1.VI - RAI DUE, 15:50h - Tennis: French Open
1.VI - RAI DUE, 19:00h - Basketball: ITALY-RUSSIA
2.VI - RAI TRE, 17:00h - Tennis: French Open
3.VI - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Tennis: French Open
3.VI - RAI DUE, 20:40h - Football: FRANCE-BRAZIL
4.VI - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Tennis: French Open
4.VI - RAI UNO, 20:40h - Football: ITALY-ENGLAND
5.VI - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Tennis: French Open
5.VI - RAI TRE, 20:25h - Athletics: Golden Gala
6.VI - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Tennis: French Open
6.VI - RAI DUE, 17:20h - Basketball (w): European championships, HUNGARY-ITALY
7.VI - RAI DUE, 14:55h - Basketball (w): European championships,
7.VI - RAI TRE, 14:55h - Tennis: French Open
7.VI - RAI TRE, 18:00h - Rugby: Italian league, final
7.VI - RAI DUE, 20:40h - Football: FRANCE-ENGLAND
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