Television in Italy


Television in Italy

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 organisations responsible for most viewing: state-owned RAI Radiotelevisione italiana (with its three generalist channels), funded by a yearly mandatory licence fee and Mediaset (owner of generalist stations Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4), commercial network founded by current Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that also holds 50.1% of the Spanish broadcasting firm Mediaset España Comunicación and heads a consortium which owns the television production house Endemol. Currently La7 is considered as the third major network in Italy, it is owned by Telecom Italia Media, the media branch of the telephone company Telecom Italia, which also owns 51% of MTV Italia. While many other networks are also present, both nationally and locally, RAI and Mediaset together, with their six traditional ex analogue stations plus a number of new free to air digital channels, reach 75-80% of the TV ratings, as detailed further below. Apart from these three free to air companies, News Corporation's satellite pay tv platform Sky Italia is increasing in viewing and shares, reaching almost 10% of the tv ratings (in 2009 it was also allowed to enter the digital terrestrial market through free station Cielo).

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 back to the end of 2012.[4][dead link]

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 broadcast 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 on 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 was the only service to offer Video On Demand up until 2009.

See also

References

External links


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