SAT-ITALY 22.11.1996


Italian media magnate Vittorio Cecchi Gori who has vast interests in the
film and television (he owns the TMC and TMC2/Videomusic channels) industry
is desperately in search of partners for his television interests. According
to some estimates, his company, Cecchi Gori Communications has debts which
amount to around 250 billion lira while it is probable that this year it
will close with losses of up to 150 billion. A serious blow to the company's
image was the lost battle over the Italian league football rights earlier
this year. 
In the meantime, Cecchi Gori has engaged the services of Letizia Moratti,
former president of RAI who has her own brokerage company who's primary goal
will be to explore possible joint-ventures with Italian and foreign
partners. Also, the Switzerland based bank UBS will serve as a consultant
for this project. One of the possible partners is Sandro Parenzo, a
Venezuelan born entrepreneur who already owns a network of local stations in
Northern Italy. After the arrival of foreign partners (if they come!), in a
few years, the company will be floated on the Stock Exchange.
Cecchi Gori has plans to "relaunch" his channels this year, seeking for a 5%
audience share, hoping to increase it to 6,5% by the end of next year. His
main rivals, RAI and Mediaset sustain that he will with great difficulty
reach 3%. Since TMC and TMC2/Videomusic currently do not cover a large part
of Italy, Cecchi Gori has started buying up small local TV stations which
will be added to his TV networks.

The artistic director of RAI International, RAI's radio and television
service for Italian expatriates, Renzo Arbore announced future plans for his
channel while awaiting the launch of the EUTELSAT HOT BIRD 2 satellite in
Cape Canaveral. Arbore said that thanks to satellite technology, RAI will be
able to reach around 100 million Italians living abroad. RAI International
broadcasts a selection of the best programs from RAI's three national
channels to viewers in North and Latin America and Australia. He also
announced that RAI International will broadcast to Europe via the HOT BIRD 2
satellite, but it's unclear at the moment if that means that transmissions
of RAI UNO, RAI DUE and RAI TRE are to cease.
RAI International has already announced its programming for Christmas when
it will transmit a special 18 hour program - covering all time zones, from
Sydney to Los Angeles. There will also be a talk-show dedicated to famous
Italians, but the most ambitious project is "Viaggio in Italia", a
documentary about the natural beauties of Italy.

During the Italian Bishops Conference held on November 13th in Collevalenza,
the general secretary of the organization, monsignor Ennio Antonelli
announced plans to start a religious satellite channel.
The Italian bishops are already active in the field of media - they have
their own news agency, newspaper, radio and TV programs and are present on
the Internet. They also prepare a daily religious news service called
Ecclesia which is primarily intended for local TV stations (currently
numbering more than hundred) throughout Italy. Ecclesia is also broadcast
via the EUTELSAT II F3 satellite, on the same transponder occupied by the
Vatican's TV service Telepace. Monsignor Antonelli said that they plan to
lease a transponder for TV and radio broadcasting (most probably on
EUTELSAT). The programming will consist of information and documentary
programs, and possibly films would also be broadcast. The new channel would
be broadcast unscrambled in order to reach the biggest number of viewers

The European Parliament has failed in its attempts to review the directive
"Television without frontiers". During a vote held in Strasbourg on November
12th, a majority vote was not reached which would have guaranteed an
efficient protection for European produced programming. The main losers are
the French, moviemakers and other people involved in the audiovisual sector
who had for the past few months mobilized their efforts against the American
domination in this field. Supporters of the directive had hoped to gather
the 314 votes necessary (at the end the voting finished 290 for and 170
against) which would be enough to change the formulation of the directive.
It currently proposes that TV stations from the EU have to transmit at least
51% EU produced programming "wherever possible".
During this session of the European Parliament, several other important
decisions were reached. First of all, the deputies confirmed the
introduction of an anti-violence chip ("V-chip") into new television sets.
Another regards the awarding of exclusive television rights for major
sporting events to non-scrambled (free-to-air) channels. An amendment that
proposed the limiting of the time devoted to TV shopping (from 8 to 4 times
a day) did not succeed in getting the necessary votes.   

Satellite dish owners and Italian media companies which have booked
transponders on HOT BIRD 2 are awaiting anxiously the launch of the new
EUTELSAT satellite. State-run television RAI which is banned from starting
pay-TV channels is hoping to start several "unscrambled" channels. During
the previous administration of director Letizia Moratti, plans for starting
several thematic channels were announced. They included a channel with
science programs (in cooperation with the Ministry of education), a channel
showing repeats (based on programming from RAI's huge archive) and an
all-news channel. Recently, a special department dedicated exclusively to
digital TV headed by Carlo Sartori has been created within the company. 
Two private media companies, Silvio Berlusconi's TV holding Mediaset and
Cecchi Gori Group are still uncertain about the ultimate use of their
transponders. Most probably, they will be initially used to transmit the
existing TV channels of both companies. The pay-TV company Telepiu (whose
major shareholders are Nethold/Canal Plus and Kirch) has more concrete
plans. Its subsidiary DSTV which is currently conducting a massive
advertising campaign in the Italian media is already offering a digital
package comprising the existing 3 Telepiu channels plus several
international channels including BBC World, CNN International and MTV Europe. 
Up till know, Telepiu has only succeeded in attracting 35,000 subscribers
which is 5 times less than previous estimates. There are probably several
reasons for this "failure" - the high cost of reception equipment (around
1,500 DM) and the fact that there are already a huge number of terrestrial
TV channels (i.e. in Rome it's possible to receive over 40 channels with a
simple aerial).
Robert Hersov, the young Southafrican manager and one of the bosses of
Telepiu is an optimist about his companies digital plans. "In other European
countries, digital television has a 20% share of the TV market. In Italy our
goals will be reached when we have 2 million Italians with satellite dishes.
I think this will happen in three years time. Movies and sports programming
will be the key of success".

The famous Cinecitta movie studios in Rome are up for sale. The Rotschild
Bank has been engaged to examine the bids of potential buyers and it is
expected that a decision will be reached by November 26th. Several Italian
companies have submitted their bids, among them Mediaset, RAI and film
producers Aurelio de Laurentiis and Cecchi Gori. It seems that several
foreign media companies are in the running and they include Carlton
Television from the U.K and Societe General des Eaux (one of the
shareholders of Canal Plus) from France. The later recently acquired the
legendary Babelsberg studios in Berlin. No private partner will be allowed
to own more than 25% of Cinecitta, with the current owner Ente cinema
possibly retaining 25%.

RAI director general Franco Iseppi at a recent meeting of the leading
executives of the TV network presented a report on the future of the
corporation. According to the report, revenues are not expected to rise
significantly next year since TV license fees as well as advertising
revenues are expected to stay the same. That means that RAI will have at its
disposition around 800 billion lira (around 800 million DM). A quarter of
the sum will be used for investments into new technology, primarily digital
television (which is in fact only a drop in the ocean, considering how much
other companies are investing), while another 600 billion is earmarked for
programming (the majority of this money will go towards acquiring TV
sporting rights).

24.XI - CANALE 5, 20:30h - Gulliver's travels - Part 1 of miniseries
(USA/ITA) starring: Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Peter O'Toole
24.XI - RETE 4, 20:40h - Internal Affairs (USA-90) starring: Richard Gere,
Andy Garcia
24.XI - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Destination Vegas (USA-95) starring: Richard Lynch
24.XI - RETE 4, 22:40h - Nel continente nero (ITA-92) starring: Diego
Abatantuono, Corso Salani
24.XI - RAI UNO, 22:50h - Trois couleurs - Bleu (FRA/SWI/POL-93) starring:
Juliette Binoche
25.XI - ITALIA 1, 20:30h - Joshua tree (USA-93) starring: Dolph Lundgren,
George Segal
25.XI - RAI  UNO, 20:50h - The bodyguard (USA-92) starring: Kevin Costner,
Whitney Houston
25.XI - CANALE 5, 20:50h - Mrs. Doubtfire (USA-93) starring: Robin Williams,
Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan
26.XI - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Undercover blues (USA-93) starring: Kathleen
Turner, Dennis Quaid
26.XI - ITALIA 1, 22:30h - Penthagram (USA-90) starring: Lou Diamond
Phillips, Tracy Griffith
26.XI - RETE 4, 23:20h - Occhio, malocchio, prezzemolo e finocchio (ITA-83)
starring: Johnny Dorelli, Lino Banfi
27.XI - ITALIA 1, 20:30h - Knight moves (USA-92) starring: Christopher
Lambert, Diane Lane
27.XI - RETE 4, 20:40h - Noi uomini duri (ITA-87) starring: Enrico
Montesano, Renato Pozzetto
27.XI - RAI UNO, 20:50h - The other mother (USA-95) starring: Frances
Fisher, Deborah May
27.XI - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Compagni di Branco (ITA-96) starring: Giulio
Scarpati, Carlotta Natoli
27.XI - CANALE 5, 20:50h - Gulliver's travels - Part II of mini-series (USA)
Ted Danson, Geraldine Chaplin, Omar Shariff
27.XI - RETE 4, 22:40h - Raising Cain (USA) starring: John Litgow, Lolita
27.XI - ITALIA 1, 22:45h - Amos & Andrew (USA-93) starring: Nicolas Cage,
Dabney Coleman
28.XI - ITALIA 1, 20:30h - The Addams Family values (USA-93) starring: Raul
Julia, Anjelica Huston
28.XI - RETE 4, 20:40h - La casa dove abitava Corrine (ITA-96) starring:
Barbara de Rossi, Massimo Ranieri
28.XI - RAI UNO, 20:50h - The hand that rocks the cradle (USA-92) starring:
Rebecca de Mornay, Annabella Sciorra 
28.XI - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Deadlocked escape from zone 14 (USA-95) starring:
Esai Morales, Stephen McHattie
28.XI - RETE 4, 22:40h - Goodfellas (USA-90) starring: Robert de Niro, Joe
Pesci, Ray Liotta
29.XI - RAI TRE, 20:30h - Rapa Nui (USA-93) starring: Jason Scott Lee, Esai
29.XI - ITALIA 1, 20:30h - Dead warrant (CAN-90) starring: Jean Claude van
Damme, Cynthia Gibb
29.XI - RETE 4, 20:40h - Not without my daughter (USA-90) starring: Sally
Field, Alfred Molina
29.XI - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Il caso Bozano (ITA-96) starring: Giorgio
Tirabassi, Elisabetta de Palo
29.XI - RETE 4, 22:50h - Damage (UK/FRA-92) starring: Jeremy Irons, Juliette
Binoche, Miranda Richardson
30.XI - RETE 4, 20:40h - The comanceros (USA-61) starring: John Wayne, Lee
30.XI - RAI DUE, 20:50h - 87th precint (USA-94) starring: Randy Quaid, Alex
30.XI - RETE 4, 22:40h - Buddy, buddy (USA-82) starring: Jack Lemmon, Walter
30.XI - ITALIA 1, 22:40h - China O'Brien (USA-89) starring: Cynthia Rotrock,
Richard Norton
30.XI - CANALE 5, 23:15h - In viaggio con Papa (ITA-82) starring: Alberto
Sordi, Carlo Verdone

24.XI - RAI TRE, 17:55h - Alpine skiing: World cup, slalom (m) from Park City
24.XI - RAI DUE, 19:00h - Basketball: Italian league BENETTON
26.XI - RAI DUE, 20:40h - Football: Italian cup (quarter finals)
26.XI - RETE 4, 20:40h - Football: Intercontinental cup  JUVENTUS-RIVER PLATE 
30.XI - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Volleyball: Italian league  LAS DAYTONA-GABECA
30.XI - RAI TRE, 17:55h - Alpine skiing: Grandslalom (m) from Brackenridge
30.XI - RAI TRE, 19:55h - Alpine skiing: World cup (w) from Brackenridge

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