SAT-ITALY 14.03.1997


The council of administration of state broadcaster RAI has confirmed the
launch of three thematic satellite TV channels by September this year. The
first will be a cultural channel, the second an educational and the third a
children's channel and all three will be broadcast in the clear. The primary
objective of the new services is to emphasize the Italian cultural tradition
and to be a window on European culture.
RAI's council of administration has also also announced the start of
negotiations with media magnate Vittorio Cecchi Gori (owns the TMC TV
network) regarding the thorny issue of broadcast TV rights to Italian league
football. According to a Florence court sentence from last December, Cecchi
Gori will take over the TV rights if he pays up the sum of 213 million DEM
by March 20th.  The director for external relations of TMC, Annibale Pepe
said in Italian daily "Corriere della Sera" that "when we hear concrete
proposals from RAI, we will examine them".

Italian media magnate Vittorio Cecchi Gori is in negotiations with several
Italian and foreign financial institutions in order to a loan which would
enable him to pay up by March 20th , the 210 million DEM necessary to take
the broadcast TV rights to Italian league football from RAI. The Italian
weekly "L'Espresso" speculates that a deal is likely with U.S. bank Merrill
Lynch which is ready to offer Cecchi Gori 300 million dollars who in turn
will offer a guarantee with his massive film archive and football rights and
the loan would have to be returned in five years. A Cecchi Gori Group
spokesman did not confirm or deny this report.
The valuation of the film archive which will be given as collateral to
Merrill Lynch has been done by Kagan World Media which had done similar work
for Mediaset. It estimates the value at 1 billion dollars. According to bank
rules, money loans can total no more than 30% of the market value of the
collateral offered, which in Cecchi Gori's case amounts to 300 million
dollars. Cecchi Gori Group has closed last year with losses of 50-60 million
DEM with advertising revenues of around 140 million DEM.

With the first race of the season in Australia, Telepiu's new Formula 1
dedicated service started broadcasting as part of the digital package
Telepiu Satellite. Every race will be transmitted live on seven different
channels, similarly to the DF-1 service in Germany. Subscribers will be
offered the choice to see the races from different perspectives. One channel
will show the race as can be seen on other channels, a second will show the
leading cars, a third will show the middle and back end of the race, a
fourth will only show images from the camera car, a fifth will continuously
show interviews from the box mixed with replays of important details, a
sixth will show lots of data about the standings and finally a seventh
channel called Canale Mosaico will divide the TV screen into six smaller
screens which will show the previous six choices. 
Unfortunately, the initial idea was to start the service with a much higher
number of subscribers. At the beginning of March the number stood at 60,013
subscribers, far below expectations. The seven Formula 1 channels are
offered at the price of 150-250 DEM for the entire season. 

According to a report in Italian daily "Corriere della Sera", the contacts
between Canal Plus, the new shareholders of pay-TV network Telepiu and the
Italian government have recently been very frequent. The talks have centered
on three important issues - changes to the new Broadcasting bill, French
investment into the Italian film industry and plans for the new digital
satellite TV service.
Telepiu has a big interest that some provisions of the Broadcasting bill are
changed otherwise it would have to immediately give up its terrestrial
transmitters (it operates 3 terrestrial pay-TV channels) to concentrate
exclusively on broadcasting via cable and satellite. The pay-TV company has
been pressuring the government to extend the time limit for giving up its
terrestrial transmitter network.  It seems the Italian government is
seriously considering accepting this proposal.
The issue of investments in cinema is very dear to Canal Plus since it hopes
to repeat in Italy what it has already done with success in France. The
director general of Canal Plus, Michel Thoulouze and his representative in
Rome, Emanuel Gout met with Italian vice-prime minister and Minister for
culture Walter Veltroni precisely for explaining these plans. Veltroni has
asked them to quantify their offer, both in terms of capital and production
quotas. Canal Plus has been hoping to present this offer as a strong
bargaining point in exchange for an extension of the license for terrestrial
The third issue concerning the development of digital TV however has proved
a bit more complicated. The Italians want a single digital platform, but
they do not want that the majority of the media companies participating are
controlled by foreign investors. In simple words, they would like some sort
of cooperation between Canal Plus (Telepiu), RAI and Stet/Stream. Thoulouze
is skeptical this idea will work and says that "in order for a digital
platform to work, you need one company and not a whole federation". He also
adds that although he is in favor of cooperating with RAI, he is skeptical
of an eventual partnership with state telecommunications operator Stet.
In a separate development, Telepiu MD Robert Hersov announced that they are
in talks with the private TV holding company Mediaset for starting several
new pay-TV channels which would be part of the digital package Telepiu

The head of the Cinema-Fiction department of RAI, Sergio Silva at a press
conference held on March 7th announced plans for new TV movies, series and
mini-series whose production is to start this year. The goal is to reduce
the amount of American made programs transmitted in the prime-time segment.
RAI plans to produce 350 hours of fiction programs during this year, but
compared to other European countries, Italy still lacks behind.
According to last years figures, Germany produced 1688 hours of fiction
programming, Britain 1058, France 690, Spain 458 and Italy 221. RAI plans to
invest around 280 million DEM this year, out of which 217 million will go to
production of TV programming and 51 million will go to movie production. On
the other hand, around 243 million DEM has been reserved for program
acquisitions, but RAI is also negotiating with Cecchi Gori Group and
Istituto Luce for recent movie titles.

The Italian service of the business news channel Bloomberg is set for an
official launch for April. Although the service has been broadcasting since
January as part of the Telepiu Satellite package, the official launch has
been delayed due to the small number of subscribers. The service is intended
primarily for business managers and financial institutions as well as for
all those interested in up-to-date economic news.
The programming format is repeated every half hour with general news,
updates from the financial markets, entertainment and sports news as well as
weather reports. Currently, the Italian language service is aired 8 hours a
day and there are plans to extend the broadcasting hours soon.

The Italian pay-TV network Telepiu has announced the launch of a new
satellite channel dedicated to Italian classic movies. The channel which
will be called Cineclassics Italia is set to start broadcasting this autumn.
It will be realized in cooperation with the French company Multithematiques
which has launched similar thematic channels in France, Italy and Germany
and the Italian film institute, Istituto Luce. Cineclassics Italia will show
more than 400 movies a year, out of which 50% will be of Italian or European
origin. The new channel will be included in the digital package Telepiu

- The British government has announced plans to ban the Italian based porn
channel Satisfaction Club Television which is broadcast via the EUTELSAT II
F2 satellite.
- It seems probable that the two new RAI thematic channels (a childrens and
education channel) will start broadcasting in June. In the initial period,
it will be possible to receive them, free of charge, with a digital receiver
intended for the Telepiu service. Later on, RAI will scramble the services
and that is when RAI will have to make a decision on which scrambling system
it will use. An agreement on this issue will possibly reached with Telepiu
or Stream who operates Italy's only cable network.

                                   FOR THE WEEK MARCH 16-22

16.III - RAI DUE, 00:20h - Remake (ITA-87), starring: Daniela Morelli,
Roberto Accornero
17.III - RAI UNO, 20:50h - The three musketeers (USA-93), starring: Tim
Curry, Kiefer Sutherland
19.III - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Every woman's dream (USA-96), starring: Kim
Cattrall, Jeff Fahey
19.III - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Piedone lo sbirro (ITA-73), starring: Bud
Spencer, Salvatore Morra
21.III - RAI TRE, 20:40h - Red heat (USA-88), starring: Arnold
Schwarzenegger, James Belushi
21.III - RAI UNO, 22:50h - Rocky III (USA-82), starring: Sylvester Stallone,
Talia Shire, Mr.T
22.III - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Scam (USA-93), starring: Lorraine Bracco,
Christopher Walken
22.III - RAI UNO, 00:20h - La caduta degli dei (ITA-69), starring: Dirk
Bogarde, Helmut Berger

16.III - RAI TRE, 16:55h - Alpine skiing: World cup, slalom (w) 
16.III - RAI DUE, 19:15h - Basketball: Italian league TEAMSYSTEM
16.III - RAI TRE, 20:40h - Alpine skiing: World cup, slalom (m)
18.III - RAI UNO, 20:40h - Football: UEFA Cup: INTER-ANDERLECHT (quarterfinals)
20.III - RAI DUE, 20:40h - Footaball: Cup winners cup: FIORENTINA-BENFICA
22.III - RAI TRE, 15:25h - Volleyball (w): Italian cup, Final four
22.III - RAI TRE, 17:15h - Basketball: Italian cup, Final four
22.III - RAI TRE, 00:05h - Boxing: ZOFF-BADILLA 

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