SAT-ITALY 19.09.1997

SAT-ITALY - EDITION 34/97 - September 19th 1997 -
Italian Satellite and Media news edited by Branislav Pekic

After the summer break, RAI, Mediaset, Canal Plus, Telecom Italia and
Cecchi Gori Communications have continued negotiations on a single digital
platform for Italy. The objective of the talks is that the principal
Italian media groups become shareholders of Telepiu (90% owned by Canal
Plus and 10% by Mediaset/Fininvest). However there are several problems
that previously have to be resolved in order for a positive solution to be
reached. The first one concerns the price: Canal Plus evaluates that
Telepiu is worth around 3,500 million DEM. This means that the Italians
would have to pay around 1,500 million DEM for a 45% stake in Telepiu,
which they feel, is far too much. Also, although Canal Plus favours the
idea of having Italian partners, it does not want to give up completely the
control of the pay-TV network. Another flashpoint is that Canal Plus would
like to impose it's own digital standard (Seca) for Telepiu which due to
its closed nature is not favoured by the Italians.
In the meantime, RAI and the state telecoms operator Telecom Italia
(formerly known as Stet) have started to reconsider the option of a single
Italian digital platform. In parallel to the talks, which are going on,
they are also actively examining the possibility of launching their own
digital platform, possibly in co-operation with other European partners
like for example TPS in France.
The other two major Italian media companies, Mediaset and Cecchi Gori
Communications are in a more relaxed position as program producers and
suppliers, since one or two digital platforms would not make such a huge
difference for them. A possible scenario could see RAI, Cecchi Gori and
Telecom Italia (through its multimedia subsidiary Stream) allied on one
side and on the other Canal Plus and Mediaset. Both groups could use the
same digital platform but as two different commercial ventures.
The Italian manufacturers would probably favour more than one digital
platform. One of them, Italtel has already signed an agreement with RAI to
produce a digital receiver/decoder for the reception of RAI's new thematic
satellite TV channels. Additionally, Stream recently signed an agreement
with U.S. computer giant IBM for a joint venture in the field of digital
satellite broadcasting.
- Le trattative sul progetto di una piattaforma digitale italiana
continuano trà RAI, Mediaset, Cecchi Gori Communications, Canal Plus e
Telecom Italia ma ci sono disaccordi su molti punti. Gli italiani non sono
disposti a pagare circa 1,500 miliardi di lire per 45% di Telepiù e Canal
Plus non vuole lasciare la gestione della pay-TV agli italiani. Una
possibile soluzione sarebbe la formazione da due diversi bouquet digitali -
uno intorno alla RAI, Telecom Italia e Cecchi Gori e l'altro intorno a
Canal Plus e Mediaset. 

As of October 1st, Italian state television RAI will start its new Web site
devoted to multimedia. The site will be called RaiNet
(http://www.rainet.rai.it) and will offer access to all RAI TV and radio
channels (including the new satellite channels RAISat 1-3). Also available
will be the latest RAI radio news (in Real Audio), the latest sports news
and Televideo (RAI's teletext service). The Web site will use the new
"push" technology, which will enable users to choose the type of service
they want to receive automatically. 
For sports fans, RAI's sports department will prepare the latest sports
news, photos, and movie clips (including the goals) from Italian league
games. Other sports such as basketball and motor racing will also be
- Dal 1 ottobre, RAI offrirà a tutti un novo sito Internet con contenuti
multimediali. RaiNet (http://www.rainet.rai.it) utilizzerà la nuova
tecnologia "push" che consentirà agli utenti di selezionare i servizi
desiderati. Saranno disponibili questi servizi: Rai Sport, Televideo,
RaiSat 1, RaiSat 2, Rai Sat 3 e Giornale Radio.

The new president of the private Italian TV holding company Cecchi Gori
Communications (CGC) which operates the TV channels TMC and TMC2, Biagio
Agnes has formally taken up his new post. Sixty nine-year-old Agnes has
previously held important posts in the Italian media: director general of
RAI and 7 years president of telecom giant Stet. At a press conference held
by Vittorio Cecchi Gori, owner of CGC, Agnes presented his plans for
relaunching the two channels. His goals are to obtain the necessary
frequencies which will enable the channels to cover all of the Italian
territory (currently they reach around 70%), a review of the way audience
figures are measured, the introduction of new programs and participation in
a digital satellite platform. Agnes added that he does not want to rival
the leading TV companies RAI and Mediaset, but instead wants to provide an
alternative television offer.
The new president of CGC used the press conference to criticize plans to
form a single Italian digital platform. He feels that there is no need for
co-operation with the French company Canal Plus on this project since this
only increases costs (which according to him amount to 1,800 million DEM).
Agnes suggests that the Italian media companies (RAI, Cecchi Gori,
Mediaset) should in fact form an alliance around Stream, the multimedia
subsidiary of Telecom Italia which has embarked on an ambitious plan of
cabling up Italy. Criticising the Italian government for its support for a
single Italian digital platform, Agnes added that without CGC and its
sports and movies, no digital platform could succeed.
Finally, answering journalists questions regarding the possibility of
foreign partners for CGC, Vittorio Cecchi Gori denied that any deals have
been signed and said that any foreign investors would have to bring in not
only money but also "hardware".
A meeting of the principal shareholders of CGC has been announced for
October 2nd and some top-level managerial changes are expected to take
place. There is some speculation that the current director general and CEO
of CGC, Francesco Nespega will lose his job.
- Il nuovo presidente della Cecchi Gori Communications (CGC), Biagio Agnes
hà criticato le trattative per una piattaforma digitale unica che avrebbe
come socio principale Canal Plus. Lui sostiene che non c'e bisogno dei
francesi, quando in Italia esiste una società già pronta (Stream). Agnes ha
detto anche che senza CGC che possiede i diritti per i film e lo sport, non
e possibile fare una piattaforma digitale.

There has been a slight change of plan for the launch of RAI's new thematic
satellite channels. Instead of all three new channels starting on September
29th, only Rai Sat 2, the children's channel aimed will start broadcasting
from that date. The educational channel called Rai Sat 3 will follow on
October 13th and finally on October 27th we will see the launch of Rai Sat
1, the arts and cultural service. All three channels will broadcast as part
of RAI's digital bouquet on the EUTELSAT HOT BIRD 2 satellite. They will
carry no advertisements and will not be scrambled. Any viewers with a
satellite dish and a digital satellite receiver will be able to receive them.
According to some estimates, there are currently between 90 and 100,000
digital receivers in Italy and it is expected that in two years their
number will reach one million.
RAI has already signed several programming deals, which total around 30
million DEM for each channel. International accords have been signed with
leading TV companies such as BBC, Channel 4, History Channel, Discovery
Channel, Nickelodeon, National Geographic TV, NVC Arts, ZDF and Arte.
Check out the following web sites: http://www.raisat.rai.it/ and
- RaiSat 2 partirà il 29 settembre e proporrà programmi per bambini e
ragazzi. Il canale digitale RaiSat 3 debuterà il 13 ottobre, e finalmente,
il 27 ottobre partirà il canale culturale RaiSat 1. Ci sono circa 90,000
ricevitori digitali in Italia in grado di ricevere i nuovi canali digitali.

The president of Canal Plus, Michael Thoulouze recently gave an interview
to the Italian daily "La Repubblica" in which he spoke of his company's
plans for Telepiu in which it has a 90% stake. Thoulouze denied rumours
that large numbers of unsatisfied subscribers have inundated the Telepiu
HQ, protesting to the cutback in sports programming. He underlined that the
number of new subscribers is twice bigger than during the same period last
year (between 1,000-1,500 a day). Two thirds of them have subscribed to the
digital service and one third to the analogue service (Premium package)
Thoulouze also explained that the new Premium  package which now comprises
the channels Telepiu Nero and Telepiu Bianco will show the best programs -
out with old movies and second rate sporting events. 
He hopes that Telepiu will have around 2 million subscribers in Italy in
two years, which is roughly 10% of the total number of households, which is
in line with other European countries. According to him, by the end of this
year, Italy will be the third biggest market for digital TV in Europe,
after France and Spain.
- In una intervista per il quotidiano "La Repubblica", il presidente di
Canal Plus, Michael Thoulouze hà dichiarato che ci sono circa 1,500 nuovi
abbonamenti a Telepiù tutti i giorni (due terzi per il servizio digitale).
Il obiettivo è di avere 2 milioni di abbonati in due anni. Entro la fine
dell'anno l'Italia sarà il terzo mercato in Europa per la TV digitale, dopo
la Francia e la Spagna.


RAI TRE, 20:35h - Fried green tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café (USA-1991),
starring: Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson
RAI UNO, 20:45h - The good, the bad and the ugly (Italy-1967), starring:
Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef
RAI DUE, 20:50h - Funf stunden angst (Germany-1994), starring: Hannes Jaenicke
RAI TRE, 20:40h - Speechless (USA-1994), starring: Geena Davis, Michael Keaton
RAI UNO, 20:50h - My father the hero (USA-1994), starring: Gerard
Depardieu, Katherine Heigl
RAI TRE, 20:50h - Judicial consent (USA-1994), starring: Billy Wirth,
Bonnie Bedellia
RAI UNO, 20:50h - With hostile intent (USA-1993), starring: Melissa Gilbert
RAI DUE, 20:50h - Primo cittadino - Part III (Italy), starring: Tullio
RAI UNO, 20:50h - Cool runnings (USA-1993), starring: John Candy, Leon
RAI DUE, 20:50h - Unforgivable (USA-1996), starring: Harley Jane Kozak,
John Ritter
RAI TRE, 20:35h - In the heat of the night (USA-1967), starring: Sidney
Poitier, Rod Steiger
RAI TRE, 20:40h - Ghostbusters II (USA-1989), starring: Bill Murray, Dan
RAI DUE, 20:50h - Inflammable (USA-1995), starring: Marg Helgenberger, Kris
RAI UNO, 00:20h - Don Bosco (Italy-1988), starring: Ben Gazzarra, Raymond

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

RAI TRE, 15:40h - Athletics: Italian Cup
RAI TRE, 01:15h - Boxing: Title fight for intercontinental champion,
RAI TRE, 12:55h - Formula 1: GP Luxembourg - heats
RAI DUE, 14:25h - Volleyball (women): European Championship, Italy-Ukraine
RAI TRE, 17:30h - Volleyball (men): Italian league

RAI UNO, 20:50h -  Concert for the Pope - talking part: Lucio Dalla, Bob
Dylan, Gianni Morandi, Andrea Bocelli

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