SAT-ITALY 18.07.1997


The Italian Antitrust Authority through its president Giuliano Amato has
made it clear that it opposes a Italian digital alliance centred around the
pay-TV network Telepiu. The decision by the Antitrust was announced in a
letter signed by Amato which was sent to the presidents of the House of
Representatives and Senate of the Italian Parliament.
In the letter, Amato criticises the decision which would allow the state
broadcaster RAI in alliance with the state telecommunications operator
Stet/Telecom Italia to join the private TV holding company Mediaset as
principal shareholders in the only Italian pay-TV network Telepiu in which
the French company Canal Plus has a controlling interest. Amato is convinced
that such an accord between the major Italian media companies would give
them a dominant position in this sector and would in effect present a
barrier for any effective competition in the area of providing digital
television services.
He also warns that this alliance would probably be challenged by the
Commission, the executive organ of the EU. In a recent similar case in
Spain, the Commission negatively responded to a proposed alliance between
Telefonica, Cable Pay-TV and Canal Plus.
It seems that the major objection made by Amato regards the position of RAI
in the digital alliance. RAI was set to buy a significant stake in Telepiu,
in fact a bigger stake than the one already owned by the private TV holding
company Mediaset (10%) and such an acquisition would have been financed
primarily by public money. The reactions from the Italian government have
ranged from surprise to anger which is not a surprise since it was due to
their pressure for a single Italian digital platform that an agreement
between all the major players was possible in the first place. The Italian
minister for posts and telecommunications Antonio Maccanico has denied that
Telepiu will prevent other companies entering the digital TV sector just
because it will have among its shareholders such companies such as RAI,
Stet/Telecom Italia, Mediaset and Canal Plus. The most likely scenario for
resolving this dispute will probably be a redistribution of quotas in
Telepiu in such a way that another negative decision by Amato will be avoided.
The Antitrust decision comes only days after RAI's administrative council
gave its approval to the accord which will see RAI forming a joint-venture
company (charged of starting new thematic TV and radio channels) with Stet
in which RAI would hold an 80% stake.

In the past days, the Italian Parliament has been debating several
government amendments to the recently passed Telecommunications bill. One of
the amendments regards the sector of digital television and if passed will
enable the state companies RAI and Stet/Telecom Italia to provide digital TV
channels (including pay-TV services). If the new amendments are passed they
will not prevent the creation of more than one digital platforms, which will
certainly be positively received by the Italian Antitrust authorities.
Additionally, an Authority for the telecommunications sector will be created
and one if its duties will be to prevent the forming of any cartels or
monopolistic companies in this area.
The private TV holding company Mediaset whose principal shareholder is
Silvio Berlusconi has already expressed its disapproval for the decision to
allow RAI and Stet to enter the digital and pay-TV sector. The reason is
that they feel that the state companies have been favoured by the government.
Another of the amendments which is under discussion would provide financial
stimulates for viewers who subscribe to pay-TV services and to those who buy
the new digital satellite receivers. The amount of tax paid on such
equipment would be significantly lowered from 19 to 4%.
A decision on the amendments is expected by July 22nd, but the final date by
which they have to be passed by both the House and the Senate is July 31st.

The separatist Lega Nord party whose aim is independence for the North of
Italy (which they call Padania) wants to start their own television network.
The network which is provisionally called Tele-Padania would in fact be a
syndication of several small and medium sized local TV stations located in
North Italy. In order to help finance such a venture, the Lega Nord have
presented an amendment to the Telecommunications bill in the Parliament. If
it is approved, it would allow big advertising agencies such as Sipra and
Publitalia to gather 1% more in advertising for local TV stations than is
currently allowed under the new Telecommunications bill.
The government has already let it known that it is contrary to such an
amendment. The under-secretary at the Ministry for posts and
telecommunications, Vincenzo Vita said "We will help local TV stations, but
by using other methods".

At a meeting of all the representatives of the major Italian football teams
which was held in Milan on July 9th, it has been decided that from June 1999
all the clubs will become owners of the TV rights to their own games. This
means that from that time they will be completely free to sell (and
determine the price) the TV rights to any TV station in the world, as is
already the case in several EU countries. According to the representative of
A.C.Milan, Adriano Galliani, major clubs will be able to get around 3
million DEM a game or 50 million DEM a season. This amount is in fact twice
the amount the clubs get from the current system of TV rights partitioning.
This decision will probably mean that on one hand the major international
broadcasters will fight over the rights to transmit the Italian Serie A
(Premier League) games and on the other hand, the Serie B (Second Division)
games will be relegated to local TV coverage.

At a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Commission in charge of supervising
the Italian state broadcaster RAI, the director general Franco Iseppi
announced a plan which would see some of RAI's three television channels
moving their headquarters from Rome. The details of the plan, which was
intended to remain secret, has been published by the Italian financial daily
"MF". According to it, RAI's first channel would remain in Rome while RAI
Due would move to Torino or Milano and RAI Tre would be located in Naples.
However, it remains to be seen if the plan will ever see the light of day
because similar initiatives of decentralising the state broadcaster failed.
One of the major problems is of financial nature. According to some
estimates, moving around 80 people for example would cost at least 8-9
billion lira (around 8-9 million DEM).

From this month, a new digital satellite receiver made by Nokia has appeared
on the Italian satellite market. The Mediamaster 9200S Free-to-Air enables
the reception of all unscrambled digital satellite channels, including the
RAI and Mediaset services as well as channels transmitted in the SCPC
(Single Carrier per Channel) system such as RAI International. A software
update is expected in August which will further enhance the capabilities of
the receiver. The Mediamaster 9200S does not have a CAM which makes it
cheaper than the other digital receivers on the market. The price is around
1,290 DEM.
Another new digital receiver intended for the reception of unscrambled
digital channels is the Zodiac RDM-200 distributed in Italy by Melchioni.
The receiver can be used in a dual-feed system since it has the 22kHz and
60Hz switching modes. The cost of the RDM-200 is around 1,300 DEM. 


20.VII - RAI UNO, 20:45h - Cahill United States Marshall (USA-1973),
starring: John Wayne, Gary Grimes
20.VII - RAI TRE, 20:50h - Parrish (USA-1961), starring: Troy Donahue,
Claudette Colbert
21.VII - RAI UNO, 20:50h - An innocent man (USA-1989), starring: Tom
Selleck, A.F.Murray
21.VII - RAI DUE, 22:35h - Salsa rosa (Spain-1991), starring: Veronica
Forque, Maribel Verdu
22.VII - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Anastastia, mio fratello (Italy-1973), starring:
Alberto Sordi, Richard Conte
22.VII - RAI TRE, 20:50h - The case of the skin deep scandal (USA-1993),
starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale
23.VII - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Un cane sciolto 3 - Part I (Italy), starring:
Sergio Castellito
23.VII - RAI DUE, 20:50h -Blond justice (USA-1996), starring: Tony lo
Bianco, Cynthia Rothrock
24.VII - RAI DUE, 20:50h - The Frisco kid (USA-1979), starring: Harrison
Ford, Gene Wilder
24.VII - RAI TRE, 20:50h - Behind closed doors (USA-1994), starring: Lesley
Ann Down, Barry Bostwick
25.VII - RAI TRE, 20:20h - PT 109 (USA-1963), starring: Cliff Robertson
25.VII - RAI UNO, 20:50h - Un cane sciolto 3 - Part II (Italy), starring:
Nancy Brilli
26.VII - RAI DUE, 20:50h - Web of deceit (USA-1994), starring: Amanda Pays,
Corbin Bernsen

Note: all movies transmitted in the prime-time slot on RAI UNO are subtitled
in English on RAI Teletext page 778

20.VII - RAI TRE, 13:20h and 14:25h - Cycling: Tour de France
20.VII - RAI TRE, 17:35h - Tennis: WTA Tour from Palermo
21.VII - RAI TRE, 10:55h and 15:20h - Cycling: Tour de France
22.VII - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Cycling: Tour de France
23.VII - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Cycling: Tour de France
24.VII - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Cycling: Tour de France
24.VII - RAI TRE, 17:25h - Motoracing: GT world cup
25.VII - RAI TRE, 15:25h - Cycling: Tour de France
26.VII - RAI TRE, 12:55h - Formula 1: GP Germany - heats
26.VII - RAI TRE, 15:20h - Cycling: Tour de France
26.VII - RAI TRE, 00:10h - Boxing: World championship fight, PASQUALE

20.VII - RAI DUE, 22:30h -  I mitici U2 - U2 special from Rotterdam
23.VII - RAI DUE, 22:40h - Franco Battiato in Concerto
25.VII - RAI TRE, 22:55h - Beethoven's symphonies - number 1 and 6
26.VII - RAI DUE, 22:30h - Opera: La Cenerentola by G.Rossi - from the Grand
Opera in Houston

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