Report: Quality of Italian TV still low

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ROME -- The quality of Italian television programming remains low, and the broadcast sector continues to be a duopoly despite gains from smaller players, according to a report released Thursday.

The report from Agcom, published in the official state newspaper Gazetta Ufficiale, highlights various points of concern in the sector.

Agcom chairman Corrado Calabro told lawmakers that the quality of Italian television "was falling on the assumption that ... with a lower level, (a network can) broaden its potential audience."

The statement, based on a year's research and monitoring by Agcom, comes even as state broadcaster RAI takes steps it says will improve the quality of programming on its three national networks.

Measures include removing reality programming, airing more films, and eventually removing advertising from one network entirely in order to free it of commercial concerns.

But the Agcom report said it found both RAI and private-sector rival Mediaset -- owned by former three-time Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- continue to rely too heavily on a schedule dominated by "quiz shows and chat programs ... (featuring) scantily-clad women and poor content."

The report indicated that RAI generated 34% of the overall television market revenue last year, with Mediaset checking in at 29%. Satellite broadcaster and News Corp. subsidiary Sky-Italia claimed 28% of revenue, but Calabro said the market remained a duopoly because the advertising market remained under the firm control of RAI and Mediaset, which combine to control 84% of television ad revenue.

Sky-Italia owns 91% of the small but fast-growing pay TV market in Italy. The company gets most of its revenue from subscription fees.

La 7, the smallest of the seven national networks, remained a fringe player in the sector, despite strong growth rates, Agcom said. La 7 is owned by former state telephone monopoly Telecom Italia.
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