Miss Italia Pageant Lands New Television Home

10:40 AM PST 10/07/2013 by Eric J. Lyman
Courtesy of Saggese-La Malfa
Giusy Buscemi was crowned Miss Italia in 2012

State broadcaster RAI aired the event for 25 consecutive years, but ended the relationship, saying it was no longer "compatible" with RAI's image.

ROME -- The Miss Italia beauty pageant has a home at last.

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One of the oldest beauty competitions in Europe, the Miss Italia pageant was broadcast by state broadcaster RAI for 25 consecutive years before the relationship was terminated earlier this year. That left the event looking for a network to bring the glamor competition into Italian homes.

Five months of negotiations with Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset, 21st Century Fox subsidiary Sky-Italia, and La7 were reported at various times to be close to closing a deal and then to have fallen apart completely. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter a month ago, pageant officials said a deal with La7 would be announced "within a day or two."

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In the end, it took longer than that. But La7, the smallest of Italy's seven national networks acquired this year by businessman Urbano Cairo, will give the event a new home -- not just for this year's edition but going forward. terms of the deal were not released.

The finals will be broadcaster Oct. 27, two weeks later than originally planned due to the delays in reaching terms for a deal. Massimo Ghini, an Italian actor, dubber, presenter, and local politician will host the event, which will be held in the town of Jesolo, near Venice.

Aside from a four-year break during World War II, the pageant has been held every year since 1939. In Europe, only the pageants in France, Germany, and the U.K. predate it.

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Like many beauty pageants, Miss Italia has in recent years drawn criticism as an outdated event that objectifies women. But it has also remained popular: though viewership has declined in recent years, two evenings of coverage of the 2012 event drew a 25 share, with more than 5 million viewers.

The Miss Italia contest has particularly close ties to the countries storied cinema industry: over the years it has launched the careers of many actresses, including Sophia Loren, Stefania Sandrelli, Lucia Bose, and Marcella Mariani. Last year’s winner was Giusy Buscemi, representing Sicily.

Twitter: @EricJLyman

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