SAT-ITALY (ITALIAN SATELLITE AND MEDIA NEWS) - May 9th 1997
DEAL NEAR ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS BILL
It seems that the Italian government and the major opposition parties have
reached an agreement which will finally enable the passage of the new
Telecommunications bill in the Parliament. Only the Lega Nord party has
expressed it's dissatisfaction and has backed nearly 2,500 amendments to the
bill which were previously brought up by the other opposition parties.
However, the Minster for post and telecommunications Antonio Maccanico has
expressed optimism that the bill will adopted by Parliament by May 30th.
Two solutions have come forth regarding the future of the terrestrial pay-TV
channel Tele+3 whose future is most vulnerable. The first is that Tele+3
will have to leave its terrestrial transmitters (and move to satellite only
broadcasts) by Christmas. A second solution would be that Tele+3 broadcasts
exclusively via satellite as soon as possible. In any case, the Italian
government has said that the number of licenses for national TV stations
will still be 15 even when Tele+3 leaves the terrestrial airwaves.
RAI CONFIRMS DEAL WITH STET
The council of administration of RAI has unanimously given it's OK to the
strategic accord which was recently signed with state telecommunications
operator Stet. The deal will enable both companies to form a joint digital
platform for offering satellite and cable services. RAI will buy a 5% stake
in Stet's multimedia subsidiary Stream with an option for a further 25%.
The joint platform will be open to other operators, both Italian and foreign
It is hoped that an agreement will be reached with Telepiu/Canal Plus. But
contacts are also taking place with other possible partners such as TPS
(France) and DirecTV (USA).
According to market analysts, Canal Plus would gain more by forming an
alliance with RAI. First of all, it would enable the arrival of much needed
capital for Telepiu. Also, RAI has very much influence in the Italian
political circles which would be a further guarantee for Telepiu's future.
Thirdly, the future of television is based on thematic channels and RAI with
its huge archive and experience would be a valuable ally in launching new
TELEPIU PACKAGE WITH 50 CHANNELS
Telepiu's digital package will have more than 50 channels by the end of the
year. Out of those, 20 will be reserved for pay-per-view channels offering
movies and sports events (from September). Another four will be used to
retransmit Telepiu's existing analog terrestrial channels and two will
broadcast the programs of Cecchi Gori's channels TMC and TMC2/Videomusic.
The remaining 25 or so channels will be reserved for thematic satellite
channels. Talks are currently underway with many potential partners. They
include Verona based Match Music, a specialized music channel whose programs
are transmitted by a hundred or so local stations, Sitcom who could be a
potential partner for launching a dedicated travel channel as well as the
major players such as RAI, Mediaset, Cecchi Gori Group and even Benetton-Sei
Milano. Interestingly, Telepiu is in negotiations with the Italian Bishops
Conference which has already announced plans to launch a religious satellite
In cooperation with its subsidiary joint-venture with Generale des Eaux
called Multithematiques, Canal Plus is getting ready to launch two new
thematic channels. They will be similar to services currently offered in
France, Germany and Spain. One will be a documentary channel similar to
Planete in France and together with the Italian film institute Luce, Canal
Plus will launch Cineclassic, a classic movie channel which will join the
"Basic" package of channels offered by Telepiu.
It is more or less certain that the two existing premium channels Tele+1 and
Tele+2 (transmitted both terrestrially and via satellite) will be
transformed into two new channels. One will offer a best-of service with
movies, sports, music concerts and other events while the second will have
similar programs but transmitted at different times.
MEDIASET EXPERIMENTS WITH CABLE
The private holding TV company Mediaset besides owning the terrestrial TV
channels Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4 is also involved in a new cable TV
project. In fact from last October, Mediaset is actively involved in the
Amuse project, a EU program for the experimental broadcast of
video-on-demand services. The project is a joint-venture between Videotime,
Mediaset's production subsidiary and Italtel, owned by state
telecommunications operator Stet and involves 18 families in Milan.
The selected families have been given a receiver and cable connection to the
international ATM network which is the basis for the Amuse project. The
high-speed wideband network enables subscribers to receive video images and
sounds and has up till now been using normal telephone lines. However, the
second phase of the program is set to start soon and it will enable the
switch to fiber-optic cable technology which will in turn enable the start
of experimental interactive services such as teleshopping and the Internet.
The champion families have at their disposition a remote control which
enables them to access the services offered: a catalogue of movies, programs
from the Mediaset owned channels, documentaries and commercial
presentations. All of these services are offered as video-on-demand services.
Mediaset participates in this project by offering free its TV programs while
Italtel is in charge of the technical questions.
TELEPIU LOSSES REACH 220 MILLION DEM
According to the Italian daily "Corriere della Sera", the 1996 losses for
the pay-TV network amount to around 220 million DEM. This sum is twice the
amount of the year 1995 when the total losses reached 120 million DEM. Last
years revenues totaled 502 million DEM, but the losses are mostly due to
heavy investments for the launch of digital satellite services.
The number of subscribers has now reached the 70,000 mark and the Telepiu
management has recently embarked on a drastic cost-cutting program. In the
past few weeks, more than one third of the managers have lost their job and
the thousand or so employees have been informed of a new incentive plan for
leaving the company. The director general of Canal Plus (one of Telepiu's
major shareholders), Michael Thoulouze said that Telepiu will start making
profit by 1999.
In January, an injection of fresh new capital has been made valued at around
100 million DEM. All the Telepiu shareholders (Canal Plus, Fininvest and
Kirch) took part in the operation.
CECCHI GORI AGAINST SINGLE DIGITAL PLATFORM
The Italian media magnate Vittorio Cecchi Gori has come out against a single
Italian digital platform. Talking to students of Communications in Rome he
said that the new broadcasting legislation should not allow that the digital
satellite technology be in hands of one subject. And added "it would be
absurd if in order to join the digital platform, everything had to pass via
Telepiu". According to him "the risk is that a monster will be formed,
through an alliance between Telepiu and Canal Plus which would mean a real
dictatorship in the communications business". He concluded that the media
concentration will kill any pluralism in the area of broadcasting.
NEWS IN BRIEF
- The private Italian TV holding company Mediaset has reported an increase
in revenues of 10% for the first three months of 1997.
- According to recently released figures by Turin city officials, around 800
km of fiber optic and coaxial cable has been laid in the city. This means
that more than 110,000 households have been passed with cable, with 55,000
already connected to the network.
PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS ON ITALIAN SAT-TV CHANNELS
FOR THE WEEK MAY 11-17
11.5 - RAI UNO, 20:45h - Men don't tell (USA-93), starring: Peter Strauss,
13.5 - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Racket - Part III (ITA-96), starring: Michele
Placido, Fiorenza Marchegiani
14.5 - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Il goal di Martin Pescatore (ITA), starring: Mara
Venier, Lorenzo de Angelis
14.5 - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Portraits of Innocence (USA-96), starring: Michael
15.5 - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Clubhouse detectives (USA-96), starring: Michael
15.5 - RAI DUE, 01:10h - Sabotage (UK-37), starring: Sylvia Sidney, Oscar
16.5 - RAI TRE, 20:40h - The enforcer (USA-76), starring: Clint Eastwood,
16.5 - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Il caso Mattei (ITA-72), starring: Gian Maria
Volonte, Peter Baldwin
17.5 - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Cupid (USA-96), starring: Zach Galligan, Ashley
11.5 - RAI DUE, 14:00h - Formula 1: GP Monaco - live
11.5 - RAI DUE, 14:30h - Tennis: Italia Open - final (w)
11.5 - RAI DUE, 18:00h - Basketball (m): Italian league, finals 2nd play-off
12.5 - RAI TRE, 15:05h - Tennis: Italia Open from Rome (m)
13.5 - RAI TRE, 15:05h - Tennis: Italia Open from Rome (m)
13.5 - RAI TRE, 16:30h - Basketball (m): Italian league, TEAMSYSTEM
BOLOGNA-BENETTON TREVISO, 3rd play-off game
14.5 - RAI TRE, 15:10h - Tennis: Italia Open from Rome (m)
15.5 - RAI TRE, 15:10h - Tennis: Italia Open from Rome (m)
16.5 - RAI TRE, 15:05h - Tennis: Italia Open from Rome (m)
17.5 - RAI TRE, 14:55h - Tennis: Italia Open from Rome (m)
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