TS News - Italy Without A Broadcasting Law

TELE-satellit News, 26 August 1996

Italy Without A Broadcasting Law
  ROME, Italy, 96/08/26 (Sat-ND) -- When a deadline set by the country's
constitutional court runs out next Tuesday, Italy will likely be without a
broadcasting law. This could mean that former Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi loses one of his three TV channels -- at least in theory.

  The Italian broadcasting law, named Legge Mammi after a former
telecommunications minister, was declared void by the constitutional court
in 1994. Any company should control no more than 30 percent of the TV
market, the judges ruled.

  The government, or rather: governments, were given almost three years to
come up with some new legislation. Not much had happened until last July
when the latest government approved a new broadcasting bill which would
force Berlusconi to convert one of his three terrestrial networks into a
satellite channel.

  Similarly, the public broadcaster RAI would have to split one of its three
nation-wide channels into a regional network. The problem, however is that
the Italian parliament simply hasn't passed this law -- it hasn't even been
discussed. So, anything might happen next Wednesday.

  It is not quite unlikely that Berlusconi will be ordered to shut down one
of his three channels Canale Cinque, Italia Uno and Rete Quattro. Company
officials claim that the market share of the Berlusconi channels meanwhile
has fallen below the 30 percent margin, mainly owing to new competitors.
Nonetheless, a Berlusconi aide was reported to have asked Prime Minister
Prodi to pass a decree in order to fill the legal vacuum. Talks are said to
be continuing on Monday.

  By: Peter Klanowski

(c)TELE-satellit 1996. All rights reserved.

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