Tiscali, RAI ink content deal

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ROME -- Italian Internet company Tiscali said Wednesday that it has signed an agreement with state broadcaster RAI to distribute its content on the Internet TV service Tiscali is launching in October.

Although terms of the nonexclusive deal were not released, it is significant for both companies.

Tiscali trails Telecom Italia's Alice service and its main rival Fastweb -- the two other companies planning Internet TV launches -- in terms of reach in Italy, and the deal with RAI gives the Sardinia-based company three instantly recognizable channels in RAI Culture, RAI Fiction and RAI Junior. The deal, Tiscali TV's biggest content pact yet, will include more than 400,000 hours of searchable archives.

For RAI, it helps to diversify income sources and expand its reach, both of which have been priorities under the company's new administration, which took over last month.

In a statement, the company said it hopes to transform 20%-30% of its 2.2 million-member base into Tiscali TV customers by the end of 2008, a level that would make it the market leader by some distance if it were achieved today.

The company said other content deals could be announced before the Italian services' October launch date, a month later than originally planned.

The Italian Internet TV launch will be Tiscali's second in Europe. The company began offering such a service in the U.K. last year through its local subsidiary Homechoice.
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