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TELEVISION Italy

System reform approved

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The rules governing the Italian radio-television system are changing: Parliament has approved a bill conceived by Minister Maurizio Gasparri (National Alliance). The provision will now move on to the Presidency of the Republic for enactment. The opposition, which carried on a relentless battle against the law, is now appealing to the President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, to not sign “unconstitutional legislation”.

Here are the main points of this provision:

SIC, antitrust roof - The SIC (Integrated Communications System) is a sort of “economic meter” in which proceeds from advertising, investments, public financing, services, cinema, etc. converge. None of the communications operators will be able to control “proceeds over” 20% of the value of the SIC, control more than 20% of the television and radio programs on ground frequencies. The antitrust roof drops to 10% for operators whose proceeds are above 40% of the total market proceeds.

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Concentration - The law makes it immediately possible too own both TV transmissions and daily newspapers. However, those who possess a TV nework (RAI, Mediaset, Telecom) will not be able to acquire shares in newspapers or create new ones until December 31, 2008.

Advertising - Only spots are subject to hourly limits (18 % for commercial television) while other forms of advertising, like television sales, are subject only to daily limits (20 %). The daily limit for spots is 15 %.

RAI - The new law redefins the criteria for electing the heads of public television. The Board of Director of the RAI will grow from 5 to 9 members, nominated initially by the Parliamentary Regulatory Commission and by the Ministry of the Economy. Following the first phase of privatization – which calls for the sale of 10% of the capital – the board of directors will be nominated by an assembly of shareholders.

Earth Digital - Acceleration and facilitation of the conversion to digital transmissions: from January 1, 2004, the RAI, dealers of public service, must cover 50% of the national territory; from January 2005, the figure increases to 70%.
With this new law, Rete 4 (Mediaset) will not have to change to satellite transmissions until 2006.

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(Translated from Italian)

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