SAT-ITALY 04.04.1997


The only porn satellite TV channel based in Italy, Satisfaction Club
Television (SCT) has been banned by the Italian authorities. Special units
of the financial police under orders from the Commission for broadcasting
searched the headquarters of  SCT on March 26th in Rivoli (province of
Piemonte) and the uplink station located in Lettere (province of Campagna)
after a request made by the UK's TV regulatory body. During the raid, the
police seized 61 adult movie titles.
The owners of the channel have been charged with broadcasting without
obtaining authorization from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
Also, the channel broke the law by broadcasting "obscene material" which is
contrary to article 528 of the current Telecommunications bill.
The programs of SCT were interrupted for a day and resumed on March 27th
after the owner of the channel, Domenico Villani found a temporary new HQ in
Copenhagen, Denmark.
SCT is a specialized satellite channel showing 2 hours a night (00:00-02:00
hr.) of hard-core pornography four days a week, from Wednesday to Saturday
via the EUTELSAT II F2 satellite (10 degrees East). It currently has around
20,000 subscribers in Europe and North Africa. The annual subscription fee
is around 600 DEM.
In an interview to Italian daily "Corriere della Sera", Villani said "We
wanted to give a chance to Italy, but those who bring in capital into this
country are penalized" He added that "There are several countries that are
ready to accept us, from Belgium to Sweden, and even Spain".

As we previously announced, the council of administration of RAI which met
on March 6th, approved the launch of new digital channels. Two digital
channels, a cultural service and a channel for children, are set to start
broadcasting from September in the clear, via the EUTELSAT HOT BIRD 2
satellite. The head of the department of "Thematic channels and New
programs", Carlo Sartori said that the new channels will show programs from
RAI's archives as well as bought-in programming from The History Channel,
Arte, National Geographic and the BBC.
The "cultural" channel will broadcast 6 hours of programming which will be
repeated four times a day while the children's service will show 8-9 hrs of
programming, also 24 hours a day. All viewers throughout Europe equipped
with a satellite dish and an adequate digital receiver will be able to
receive the new channels. RAI is also examining the possibility of entering
the pay-TV market and launching pay-per-view services (cultural events,

The Italian media magnate Vittorio Cecchi Gori has not suceeded in finding a
foreign partner ready to invest into his TV empire up till now. Negotiations
have been going on for the past few months with no result. It seems the
stumbling block is the fact that Cecchi Gori is ready to sell 25-40% of his
channels TMC and TMC2/Videomusic - 40% if the partner is from a EU country,
25% if the partner is located out of the EU, but is not ready to give up his
absolute control of the running of the two services.
This in fact means that Cecchi Gori is prepared to operate with the capital
of his foreign partners without allowing them to have any decision power.
Because of this, few foreign media companies have entered into serious
discussions with the Italian magnate. According to market estimates, Cecchi
Gori Group is worth around 2,000 million DEM and its debts amount to around
300 million DEM. It's leading channel TMC has an audience share of 2,5%.

The specialized Italian magazine "Eurosat" recently published an interview
the Director general of SES, Romain Bausch in which he confirmed his
company's interest for the Italian market. In the interview Bausch said that
according to official SES estimates there are 650,000 Italian households
receiving channels from the ASTRA satellites and this shows that ASTRA is
the most popular satellite system in Italy. He also noted that the number of
dishes installed is lower than in most Western European countries.
Because of the lack of cable TV, SES has identified Italy as a high-growth
potential DTH market. There are plans to offer a bouquet of channels in the
Italian language via the ASTRA satellite system (19,2 or 28,2 degrees East).
He added "We are in constant contact with Italian and other foreign
broadcasters who are interested in the Italian satellite market".
The Italian football federation in cooperation with the pay-TV network
Telepiu has come up with a proposal for boosting the number of subscribers
to the subscription service Telepiucalcio. According to this project which
would start next season, football fans will be offered a package which would
include tickets for the home games of their favourite team as well as the
possibility to view, at a special price, the away matches of their team via
Telepiu has so far only succeeded in selling 60,000 subscriptions which is
far less than the previous projection of 100,000. 

According to an article published in the Italian daily "Corriere della
Sera", the Italian and French governments have come up with a plan for
broadcasting multimedia applications via satellite. The project which is
called MED-SAT is set to revolutionize the communications between the
Mediterranean countries.
The communication system is based upon the interconnection of satellites and
fiber-optic cable networks in the ATM standard (Asyncronous Transfer Mode)
which is already in its experimental phase in South France, Berlin, Geneva
and London. The network will also rely on nodes in Tunis, Rabat, Haifa and
Beirut. The services will be transmitted at the speed of 2 Megabytes a
second, with the possibility of transmitting more sophisticated applications
such as telemedicine and teleformation (up till 155 Mb/s). However, the
whole network will not be operational before the year 2000. 
According to Guy Lebegue from Aerospatiale in Cannes "the problem is the
frequency band of satellites. The ones that transmit in digital use the 11
and 20 GHz bands, while those needed for the information superhighways plan
to use 30 GHz. So for the MED-SAT service a new satellite will be needed".
Besides Aerospatiale, the initiators of the project include France Telecom,
Alenia Spazio, and Alenia Elsag. MED-SAT in fact is seeking to become a
consortium open to all partners: telecommunications operators, service
providers, multimedia producers, universities, associations and research
A workshop in Cairo at the end of May is planned for all the participants of
MED-SAT with a Forum being planned for the autumn with the participation of
the respective Ministers of health, industry and information from the
Mediterranean countries. The consortium is looking towards Brussels for
obtaining financing for the project, and several large industrial giants are
expected to contribute financially. Club Med for example is planning to use
MED-SAT to connect its network of resorts throughout the Mediterranean area.
Some experimental transmissions of MED-SAT may start by the end of this year
using the experimental ATM platform on the ITALSAT or the TURKSAT and
ARABSAT satellites currently in orbit.

The French pay-TV company Canal Plus which holds a 45% stake in Telepiu is
promising its subscribers more sports, news and cultural programming. There
are currently many rumors circulating about potential new shareholders of
the Italian pay-TV network. The Italian minister for Posts and
Telecommunications, Antonio Maccanico is pressing the French to allow RAI,
Stet and a pool of national banks enter the shareholding structure of
Telepiu, buying up to 51% of the company. 
In the meantime, the Italian government is considering a proposal to allow
the 3 Telepiu subscription channels to continue using their terrestrial
transmitters for some time, otherwise they would have to move to satellite
and cable only from this August. The key question is how long will be the
time period when the 3 channels would have to transfer to satellite. An
initial proposal was that Telepiu 3 would move in one year, Telepiu 2 in
three years and Telepiu 1 in six years. 

Note: In last week's article on RAI investments in the Italian cinema, I
wrote that RAI invests 900 million DEM for each episode of a
series/mini-series. The real amount of course is 900,000 DEM. My excuse to
all SAT-ITALY readers for this factual mistake.

                                   FOR THE WEEK APRIL 6-12 

6.IV - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Colors (USA-88), starring: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall
7.IV - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Nell (USA-95), starring: Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson
9.IV - RAI UNO, 20:50h - A stranger to love (USA-96), starring: Beau
Bridges, Tess Harper
9.IV - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Piedone d'Egitto (ITA-80), starring: Bud Spencer,
Enzo Cannavale
10.IV - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Father of the bride (USA-91), starring: Steve
Martin, Diane Keaton
11.IV - RAI UNO, 22:55h - Un turco napoletano (ITA-53), starring: Toto,
Carlo Campanini
12.IV - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Caroline at midnight (USA-94), starring: Mia Sara,
Tim Daly

6.IV - RAI DUE, 19:00h - Basketball: Italian league, play-off quarter-finals
8.IV - RAI UNO, 20:40h - Football: UEFA Cup, INTER-MONACO (semifinals)
10.IV - RAI DUE, 21:25h - Football: Cup winners cup, BARCELONA-FIORENTINA
11.IV - RAI TRE, 15:40h - Basketball: Italian league, quarterfinals-play off 
11.IV - RAI TRE, 16:20h - Tennis: ATP Tour Challenger tournament - Naples
12.IV - RAI TRE, 16:20h - Volleyball: Italian league, semifinals
12.IV - RAI DUE, 17:50h - Formula 1: GP Argentina, heats 
12.IV - RAI TRE, 18:00h - Tennis: ATP Tour Challenger tournament - Naples


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