World Media in 2005: Italy

As well as being the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi dominates the country's media through Mediaset, Italy's largest private television broadcasting company, which he owns.

Carovita is becoming a much-bandied-about term in Italy. It roughly translates as "the high cost of living". The reality of life in Italy today could not provide more of a bitter contrast to Italy's "beautiful people" image in Federico Fellini's 1960 film La Dolce Vita.

Since the euro was introduced in 2002, house prices in Italy's cities have risen by more than 50 per cent and staples such as bread and milk have doubled. Salaries are not keeping up and a Demos survey shows that many Italians expect their children to be poorer than them. Meanwhile, women's magazines offer tips on how to live frugally - not surprising when, according to the official statistical body, Istat, 10 per cent of Italians live in poverty, while 8 per cent narrowly escape it.

The Italian economy has been stagnant for the past few years and the prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's economic reforms are doing little to improve matters. Re-elected in 2001 for his second stint (his first ended in 1994 in a wave of corruption allegations), Berlusconi is a colourful figure with huge media assets. Reported to be one of the richest men in Europe, he launched Mediaset, Italy's biggest private television broadcaster, in the 80s. His grip on the state broadcaster, Rai, may also be tightened this year, if it is privatised.

As the prime minister, Berlusconi already exercises significant influence over Rai's coverage and senior personnel have resigned on account of his interference. In May 2004, Lucia Annunziata, Rai's president, quit, claiming that the network had become a "mailbox" for the government and its independence had been compromised. Lilli Gruber, a respected Rai anchor, resigned for the same reason.

Over at Mediaset, the focus is on its digital platforms, which hold the key to many Italian hearts: a digital terrestrial channel now owns the rights to screen Serie A football until 2007, offering matches on a pay-per-view basis through the purchase of special cards. This puts Mediaset head to head with Sky Italia, which works on a subscription basis and currently broadcasts in 2.7 million homes. Analogue switch-off is slated for 2006.

Italians love TV. Films and football matches are the most popular fare and the country's love of football even extends to newspapers: Stadio and La Gazzetta dello Sport are daily titles that follow a sporting theme. Commuter freesheets have also fared well.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE

USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1=

euro 0.89 *Estimated

News- Mag-

Total papers azines TV Radio Cinema Outdoor Internet

1992 5,234 1,201 960 2,652 190 15 216 0

1993 5,116 1,128 899 2,692 185 16 195 0

1994 5,106 1,084 850 2,782 193 18 178 0

1995 5,390 1,150 873 2,928 227 19 193 0

1996 5,821 1,246 910 3,168 262 21 215 0

1997 6,391 1,390 954 3,462 301 29 256 0

1998 7,081 1,561 1,057 3,767 360 41 287 8

1999 7,931 1,784 1,161 4,154 431 48 320 33

2000 9,110 2,052 1,307 4,666 513 56 359 156

2001 8,809 1,927 1,342 4,519 466 64 370 121

2002 8,519 1,794 1,229 4,546 437 69 332 112

2003 8,831 1,785 1,241 4,767 497 79 345 117

2004 9,454 1,838 1,261 5,216 571 85 358 125

2005* 9,999 1,906 1,301 5,529 662 93 371 136

2006* 10,755 1,992 1,348 5,999 763 107 390 157

2007* 11,511 2,072 1,388 6,478 878 118 405 172

ADSPEND NOTES

1) Excludes agency commission

2) Excludes production costs

3) Excludes classified advertising

4) After discounts

5) Magazines includes newspaper supplements

FACTFILE

HIGHEST CIRCULATING

Newspaper: Corriere Della Sera (daily, 679,000)

Business magazine: Milano Finanza (113,000)

Consumer magazine: Sorrisi e Cantoni TV (1,379,000)

Most-watched TV programme (2003): Champions League final, Juventus vs

Milan

Best new TV format: Affari Tuoi (a gameshow on Rai)

MAJOR LOCAL MEASUREMENT TOOLS

Circulation: ADS (Accertamento Diffusione Stampa)

Readership: Audipress

TV viewing: Auditel

TOP MEDIA OWNERS

Newspapers: Publikompass

Magazines: Mondadori

Television: RAI (public), Mediaset, News Corp

LOWDOWN

Media topic du jour - Terrestrial channels starting to broadcast football on their digital platforms. How dangerous is this threat to Sky Italia's current monopoly?

Reigning media guru and why - Enrico Finzi, a prominent market researcher who has a remarkable knack of predicting trends.

Media mogul to be seen dining with and why - Marco Benatti, WPP's country manager in Italy. Since it bought Grey Global in September 2004, WPP controls more than 30 per cent of media investments in the Italian market.

Car to drive - A Smart car or a Mini is the only way to cope with the huge volumes of traffic in Italy's polluted cities.

Top-selling beer brand - Heineken, although Beck's is catching up.

Phone to carry - Samsung SGH-D500 or a BlackBerry.

Whatever you do, don't say ... "Shall we give the football a miss?"

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