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Television in Italy was introduced in 1939, when the first experimental broadcasting began. However, this lasted for a very short time: when fascist Italy entered World War II in 1940 all the transmission were interrupted, and were resumed in earnest only nine years after the end of the conflict, in 1954. There are two main national television networks responsible for most viewing: state-owned RAI, funded by a yearly mandatory licence fee and Mediaset, commercial network founded by current Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. While many other networks are also present, both nationally and locally, these two together reach 80% of the TV ratings, as detailed further below.

As with all the other media of Italy, the Italian television industry is widely considered both inside and outside the country to be overtly politicized[1]. The public broadcaster RAI is, unlike the BBC which is controlled by an independent trust, under direct control of the government; the most important commercial stations in the country are, in turn, owned by the current prime minister. According to a December 2008 poll, only 24% of Italians trust television news programmes, compared unfavourably to the British rate of 38%, making Italy one of only three examined countries where online sources are considered more reliable than television ones for information.[2][3]

Contents

Digital terrestrial television

Digital terrestrial television technology is expanding rapidly and now every major network in Italy, including RAI, Mediaset and Telecom Italia Media transmits in DVB-T format, while continuing analog broadcast until the end of the transition, originally set by law to 31 December 2006 but later pushed forward to the end of 2012.[4]

The Berlusconi II Cabinet started promoting the digital format in December 2003 by granting a public financial contribution for the purchase of a MHP digital television decoder. Starting from January 2005 Mediaset and Telecom Italia Media started offering pay TV services through a prepaid smartcard, including football games, movies and tv shows. On February 2006, during the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Turin, RAI experimentally broadcasted a number of sport events using a 1080i signal and H264 coding. The HD signal has been transmitted over the Turin area, using DVB-T hierarchical modulation, and only specially crafted decoders have been able to receive this signal: they were placed in strategical points in the town.

During the UEFA Euro 2008 and the 2008 Summer Olympics, RAI has started experimental High Definition broadcasting on Rai Test HD, available only in Turin, Milan, Rome, Sardinia and Aosta Valley, continuing with the 2008 UCI Road World Championships and few matches of UEFA Champions League. In July 2008 the European Commission's directorate for competition expressed concerns on whether the actions taken by the current Italian government will be able to alter the current status of duopoly in the broadcasting market held by RAI and Mediaset[5] Beginning 31 October 2008, in the first region of Italy planned to interrupt analog transmission, Sardinia, television networks broadcast multiplexes only in digital format. Licence fee payers from the region are entitled to a 50 euros detraction from the price of a digital television decoder or a new, digital-compatible TV set[6].

Satellite television

Italy has had digital satellite broadcasts since 1997. Currently SKY Italia pay TV platform is broadcasting from Hotbird satellites. HDTV regular services started in June 2006 under the name SKY HD, with the broadcasting of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in High Definition. Additional movie and sport channels are planned for the service. Tivù Sat, a Free Satellite Service similar to the UK version Freesat, has been launched in June 2009, ensuring access to national television channels from digital terrestrial television networks. Shareholders include Mediaset, Telecom Italia Media and the State Owned Company RAI[7].

Cable television

In the 1960s the public television network RAI was a monopolist and the only authorized to broadcast in Italy. Giuseppe Sacchi, a former RAI editor, launched in April 21, 1971 the first "free" television station, called Telebiella and based in Biella. It started to broadcast on April 6, 1972, devoting primarily to news and information. Immediately the government led by Giulio Andreotti forced Sacchi to dismantle Telebiella. Later a new law was issued to regulate and allow the cable broadcasting, although with tight limitations[8]: only one cable system for every city and only one TV channel for each system. Cable television remained undeveloped for many years, with the exception of few amatorial project. In the 1990s, first Telecom Italia and then FASTWEB created Optical fiber networks and launched their IPTV offers (however associated by SKY Italia or Mediaset Premium subscriptions). IPTV is also the only one to offer Video on demand services in Italy.

Pay Television providers

Provider Households Transmission
SKY Italia 4,700,000[9] DTH
Mediaset Premium 2,700,000[10] DTT
Alice 329,000[11] IPTV
Fastweb 200,000[12] IPTV
Tiscali 0[13] IPTV

Most-viewed channels

The Auditel measures television ratings in Italy. The channels with a viewing share of >= 1.0% according to Auditel's measurements in September 2008 are: [14]

Channel 2005 2006 2007 2008
Rai Uno 22.86 22.99 22.33 21.80
Canale 5 21.82 20.96 20.67 20.33
Rai Due 11.29 11.27 10.38 10.60
Italia 1 11.48 11.09 11.18 10.83
Rai Tre 9.11 9.31 9.06 9.07
Rete 4 8.63 8.22 8.68 8.28
La7 2.71 3.02 2.97 3.08

See also

References

  1. ^ "Country profile: Italy". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1065345.stm#media. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  2. ^ "Web worldwide: UK housewives love it, Chinese use it most, Danes are least keen". The Guardian. 209-01-01. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/jan/01/internet-web-worldwide-international. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  3. ^ "Our new digital friend? We now trust online news as we trust TV and newspapers". TNS US. 2008-12-15. http://www.tns-us.com/news/our_new_digital_friend_we.php. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  4. ^ "SWITCH OFF FOR 2012". 2006-09-01. http://www.comunicazioni.it/en/index.php?IdNews=68. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  5. ^ "EU wants Italy to clarify frequency distribution rules". Broadband TV News. http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/?p=5441. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  6. ^ "Digitale Terrestre Parte in Sardegna lo switch-off" (in Italian). NonSoloCinema. 2008-10-15. http://www.nonsolocinema.com/Digitale-Terrestre_13105.html. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  7. ^ "RAI and Mediaset plan Italian freesat Broadband TV News". Broadband TV News. http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/?p=13109. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  8. ^ "Legge 103/75 Nuove norme in materia di diffusione radiofonica e televisiva" (in Italian). Agcom. http://www.agcom.it/L_naz/l103_75.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  9. ^ "Revenues fall at Sky Italia". Broadband TV News. 2009-02-06. http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/?p=13871. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  
  10. ^ "Nagra renews Mediaset Premium". Broadband TV News. 2009-02-24. http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/?p=14635. Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  11. ^ "Alice IPTV adds Mediaset content". Broadband TV News. 2009-03-04. http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/?p=14965. Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  12. ^ "Fastweb makes first ever profit". Broadband TV News. 2009-02-26. http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/?p=14702. Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  13. ^ "Tiscali ceases Italian IPTV". Broadband TV News. 2008-12-29. http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/?p=12318. Retrieved 2009-03-08.  
  14. ^ "Sintesi Mensile 1A Emittenti Nazionali". Auditel. http://www.auditel.it/doc/sintesimensile_1_settembre08.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-07.  

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