Mediaset lays out Endemol plans

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ROME -- Italian broadcast giant Mediaset on Monday said it will look to expand the reach of reality television producer Endemol while delaying plans to launch a mobile phone service until 2008.

The two developments show that the Milan-based company intends to focus expanding its traditional strengths, analysts said.

The Endemol plans were released jointly with that company's founder, John De Mol. Mediaset and De Mol earlier this month bought 75% of Endemol's shares from Spain's Telefonica.

In the statement, Mediaset and De Mol said that Endemol will look to expand through acquisitions and cooperation agreements with new partners such as Internet search engines.

Mediaset also said it will delay its planned launch of mobile phone services, which the company originally said it would have ready for the market by the end of the summer in cooperation with current phone operator Telecom Italian Mobile or Wind.

Such a launch now appears likely in 2008. The company did not explain the delay.

Media analysts said that the two announcements could indicate a shift in strategy for the company, which is controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"The mobile phone launch was a tentative move," ABS Securities analyst Gianluca Antonello said. "But the company knows television and that's why it acquired control of Endemol."
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