Digital TV picking up speed in Italy

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ROME -- The Italian government's efforts to promote digital television technologies in Italy are starting to pay off, with new statistics showing that Italy has become Europe's fastest-growing market for digital TV.

While Italy has the advantage of starting from relatively low baseline levels, Italy's only large digital television broadcaster -- Sky Italia -- grew 12% in 2006, adding some 430,000 new customers to its rolls. The increase made Sky Italia the second-largest holding in Europe for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., trailing only British Sky Broadcasting. Sky also said that growth prospects for this year remained strong.

Italy is pushing to speed up the switchover from traditional terrestrial technologies to the newer digital technologies. A new reform will require state broadcaster RAI and private-sector rival Mediaset to switch one of their three networks to 100% digital technologies by 2009. Each company -- along with the seventh national broadcaster, La 7 -- must make their other two networks available via digital frequencies by 2012.
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