World Media 2006: Italy

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 31 March 2006 12:00AM

Silvio Berlusconi's premiership has brought political stability to Italy but his control of Mediaset, the country's dominant media conglomerate, is a cause for concern both at home and abroad.

If Italians have been enjoying themselves more ardently in recent months (and it is to be hoped they have), then it's because they have been doing their best to follow divine guidance. Before he died last year, that noted student of human nature, Pope Jean Paul II, urged Italians to rediscover love. And not any old sort of metaphysical or Platonic love, either. No, he meant the physical sort.

Even the Papacy had noticed that the biggest long-term challenge facing modern Italy is the country's dismal birthrate - easily the lowest in Europe. If the Italians don't get busy soon, the population will decline by more than 30 per cent over the next 50 years, according to forecasters.

The lack of procreation is not the only problem facing the country, however.

Despite the moral crusades of the 90s, corruption still exists at all levels of public and business life; and organised crime now provides a dark backdrop to the continuing revival of extreme rightwing politics.

All that aside, the country is actually more stable politically than at any time since the second world war. Having been cleared by the courts last year of charges relating to his business affairs in the 80s, the country's premier, Silvio Berlusconi, has become the longest-serving Italian prime minister for 60 years.

And that, of course, continues to have major implications for the country's media and advertising industries. Because Berlusconi just happens to be the boss of the country's dominant media conglomerate, Mediaset, which controls Italy's private commercial television stations. Nowhere in Europe do politics and the media industry hold hands so tightly.

Although digital multichannel television is starting to grow promisingly, old-fashioned terrestrial TV still predominates. And in Italy, TV's share of advertising spend (at 55 per cent) is higher than that of any other comparable market.

So, with the television market effectively carved up between Mediaset and the state-owned broadcaster, RAI, it will be fascinating to monitor the progress of new media legislation that effectively increases the power of this duopoly.

Some observers believe this state of affairs is unhealthy. And the likes of Rupert Murdoch, who is trying to introduce pay-TV competition with Sky Italia, have not been impressed by the way Italy does business.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1= EUR0.8. *Estimated Total TV Newspapers Magazines Radio 1994 5,623 3,064 1,194 936 212 1995 5,936 3,225 1,266 961 250 1996 6,411 3,489 1,372 1,002 289 1997 7,039 3,813 1,530 1,051 332 1998 7,798 4,148 1,720 1,164 397 1999 8,735 4,575 1,964 1,279 475 2000 10,032 5,139 2,260 1,439 565 2001 9,701 4,977 2,122 1,478 513 2002 9,382 5,007 1,975 1,354 481 2003 9,725 5,250 1,965 1,367 547 2004 10,412 5,744 2,024 1,389 629 2005 10,713 5,922 2,082 1,444 628 2006* 11,202 6,236 2,147 1,480 670 2007* 11,718 6,530 2,230 1,531 705 2008* 12,297 6,875 2,311 1,574 755 Total Outdoor Online Cinema 1994 5,623 196 0 20 1995 5,936 212 0 21 1996 6,411 236 0 23 1997 7,039 282 0 31 1998 7,798 316 8 45 1999 8,735 352 37 53 2000 10,032 395 172 62 2001 9,701 408 133 71 2002 9,382 366 124 76 2003 9,725 380 129 87 2004 10,412 395 138 94 2005 10,713 393 152 93 2006* 11,202 403 168 98 2007* 11,718 429 188 106 2008* 12,297 456 213 114 Adspend notes 1) After discounts. 2) Includes agency commission. 3) Excludes production costs. 4) Includes some classified advertising. 5) Magazines include newspaper supplements. FACTFILE Highest circulating titles - Newspaper: Corriere Della Sera (daily, 679,000 copies) - Business magazine: Milano Finanza (daily, 113,000 copies) - Consumer magazine: Sorrisi e Canzoni TV (monthly, 1,381,000 copies) Top TV shows - Most watched TV programme (2004): Italy v Bulgaria, Euro 2004 football championships - Best new TV format - Wrestling highlights from the WWE tour Major measurement tools - Circulation: ADS (Accertamento Diffusione Stampa) - Readership: Audipress - TV viewing: Auditel Main media owners - Newspapers: Publikompas - Magazines: Mondadori - Television: RAI (public), Mediaset, News Corporation

THE LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour: Digital TV, both terrestrial and satellite, has been relatively slow to take off in Italy. Will the market jump straight to mobile TV, which is growing vigorously?

Reigning media guru and why: Researcher Serenella Salomoni, who in an exhaustive survey finally proved that most Italians prefer watching television to having sex.

Media mogul to be seen dining with: Fedele Confalonieri, a member of Italy's cultural great and good, the chairman of Mediaset and Silvio Berlusconi's right-hand man.

Car to drive: Fiat Punto.

Phone to carry: Nokia 6680.

Whatever you do, don't say: No, really, let's start a family.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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